Fifth Framework Programme - External Advisory Groups
First Report of the External Advisory Group on "Nuclear Fission"
This report is also available as PDF-file: fission1.pdf (42 Kb)
The External Advisory Group (EAG) met on three occasions in November and December, 1998, to assist the Commission in establishing the content and orientation of the key action on nuclear fission. The formal mandate of the EAG is restricted to the key action. However, because much of the generic research on the radiological sciences is in direct support of the key action, the Group judged that it was appropriate to extend its advice to this area.
A working document, prepared by the Commission's Services, was used by the EAG as the basis of its discussions. In this working document, the objectives and priorities set out in the draft Council Decision on the Specific Programme in the area of nuclear energy were further developed.
Consistency with the objectives of the specific programme
The EAG concluded that the research and training (RT) activities outlined in the working document are fully consistent with the objectives of the key action on nuclear fission and the generic research on radiological sciences, as set out in the draft Council Decision adopting a research and training programme (Euratom) in the field of nuclear energy. The rationale, set out in the working document, also provided a sound basis and justification for the programme. Subject to some detailed comments and recommended changes (see below), the EAG broadly supported the scope, content and structure of the RT priorities set out in the working document.
Grouping of RT activities
The EAG noted that the grouping of RT activities in the working document did not strictly follow that set out in the draft Council Decision on the Specific Programme. This re-grouping did not affect the scope, nor the content, of the proposed research activities and was being proposed by the Commission's Services solely to enhance the clarity of the programme and facilitate its implementation. The main changes concern: restriction of the section on "Safety of the fuel cycle" to the management and disposal of spent fuel and waste and partitioning and transmutation; the inclusion of severe accident research in the section on "Operational safety of existing installations" and the separation of "evolutionary" (ie, developments based on existing technologies) from more "innovative" concepts. The EAG recognised the need to re-group some of the RT activities and supported the Commission Services' proposal subject to number of small modifications.
Co-ordination with JRC Programme
Several topics within the key action are common to the direct action programme of the Joint Research Centre (JRC). These comprise the ageing of materials and components, fuel cycle safety, the study of irradiated fuels with a view to direct disposal and the study of severe accidents. The EAG stressed the importance of proper co-ordination of the activities between the two programmes, in particular to avoid duplication and ensure complementarity. The EAG will examine how this co-ordination is being achieved during the implementation of the programme.
Objectives and Targets
The EAG supported the approach, adopted in the working document, to define clear objectives and sub-objectives for each main area of the key action on nuclear fission and generic research on radiological sciences. The EAG examined whether it would be possible to develop more quantitative targets for some or all of the areas; it concluded that this was not practicable and that the objectives, as formulated in the working document, were sufficient to define clearly the scope and intent of the programme.
Strategy for call for proposals and priorities for 1999
The EAG expressed a strong view that all elements of the programme, both key action and generic research, should be implemented at the earliest opportunity. They saw no reason, of a technical or scientific nature, for delaying the implementation of one or other element of the proposed research.
The EAG recognised that the scope and content of the calls that could be made in 1999 would be influenced by budgetary considerations. Given the anticipated budgetary constraints, they supported an approach whereby one targeted call (to be accompanied by an open call for generic research) would be made in early 1999 covering all topics in the key action; the call would contain two deadlines for submission for different research topics. Topics within the first deadline would be supported with budgetary resources from 1999 and those within the second with resources from 2000. The EAG advised the Commission to take account of the following when deciding which topics should be included within the first deadline for submission: operational importance, project lead time and the relative priority which the EAG had expressed on the different research areas.
Evaluation criteria were only discussed in general terms. The EAG will examine this issue in due course when the Commission documents its proposed approach.
In developing its advice on the scope, content and structure of the programme, the EAG drew particular attention to the following: