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The EU Programme

The European Union supports and coordinates a wide range of activities that are focused on the realisation of fusion energy. These range from basic research to technology development, construction of major projects and training and education activities.

There are several facets to the EU Fusion Energy Programme.

The European Joint Undertaking for the Development of Fusion Energy (Fusion For Energy)

The Fusion for Energy Joint Undertaking (effectively an autonomous agency of Euratom) has been created to deliver Europe's commitments to the ITER Agreement and the Broader Approach activities. This includes work on design aspects, site preparation and construction of ITER, procurement of EU-sourced components and relations with France, the host country, and other international partners. The agency plays a similar role in the Broader Approach activities that are being undertaken with Japan.

Contracts of Association

These are the bilateral contracts between fusion research organisations (Associates) in Member States and the European Community. Under those contracts the various fusion laboratories in Europe jointly undertake the activities outlined in the work programmes for Euratom FP7. This programme now places increased emphasis on activities in physics and emerging technology coordinated under the EFDA (see below).

European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA)

EFDA provides coordination of the work of all the Associates, ensuring tight integration of the Europe-wide programme. It also supervises the scientific exploitation of the JET facilities in Culham. A key focus of current activities under EFDA is the completion of major enhancements to JET including the installation of an 'ITER-like' inner wall and high performance computing resources. The operation of the JET facilities is handled by the UK Atomic Energy Authority under contract to Euratom.

Other Multi-lateral Agreements

These include the Mobility Agreement to promote collaboration and mobility of researchers between the various European research organisations and facilities. The agreement provides financial support to the cooperative work of the Associations, to participation in EFDA-coordinated activities, including those that support ITER and the Broader Approach projects, in addition to promoting European involvement in other international cooperative projects.

A new multi-lateral agreement supports the operation of a large supercomputer (the High Performance Computer for Fusion - HPC-FF). It has been procured by the Association Euratom - Forschungszentrum Juelich (Germany) with 40% of the cost financed by Euratom. Under the multi-lateral agreement, all Associates have access to the computer, whose 100 Teraflop capacity allows large scale simulation and modelling to be carried out, mainly for projects related to the future operation of ITER.

Human Resources, Education and Training

An essential area of activity is to train and develop the engineers and scientists required for future fusion projects. Under the EFDA Work Programme, priority areas for joint training have been identified and a scheme has been launched in which about 40 trainees per year are receiving comprehensive, three-year training in appropriate aspects of fusion science and technology. In addition, every year up to 10 exceptional candidates are awarded career development EFDA fellowships on priority research topics.

Coordination and Support Actions

These actions aim at strengthening the interfaces of the fusion community with related scientific and industrial communities. Examples are a training network on fusion education, supporting atomic data for fusion and creating a network for fusion materials science. A support action under EFDA provides essential services to the Fusion Expo - a mobile exhibition on fusion research.

Industrial Policy and Knowledge Management

The Commission is making strong efforts to further stimulate the involvement of European industry in fusion work and to manage the knowledge which has already been generated in the programme. This requires raising the awareness of Intellectual Property issues in the Associates, developing databases and tools, and the protection and exploitation of knowledge.

International Agreements

Beyond ITER and the Broader Approach Agreement, there are a number of international agreements to promote worldwide cooperation in fusion research. Bilateral agreements between Euratom and third countries provide an umbrella under which scientific cooperation and exchange of researchers can take place.