On Tuesday, 27 March 2007, the European Council decided to establish the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the further development of fusion energy.
ITER (the path in Latin) will be the world's largest fusion research. It's aim is to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power. The ITER project is supported by seven parties: EU, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. The seven partners have earlier agreed to establish the ITER International Fusion Energy Organisation with headquarters in Cadarache, France.
In addition, the parties have agreed to provide contributions to the ITER Organisation through legal entities referred to as "Domestic Agencies". The new Joint Undertaking will play the role of the European Domestic Agency. It is established in the frame of the Euratom Treaty for a period of 35 years, has a budget of EUR 9.653 million and will be based in Barcelona. Its tasks are:
- to provide the contribution of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to the ITER International Fusion Energy Organisation;
- to provide Euratom's contribution to "Broader Approach" activities with Japan for the rapid realisation of fusion energy;
- to prepare and coordinate a programme of activities in preparation for the construction of a demonstration fusion reactor and related facilities.
In a first statement, Jérôme Paméla, Leader of the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), called the council's decision "a key step" towards the setting up of a new European fusion landscape. "The construction of the ITER project implies a significant reorganisation of the European fusion programme. The new organisation will be based on this new Joint Undertaking in charge of providing Euratom's contribution to ITER construction on the one hand, and the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) in charge of coordinating research in preparation of the scientific exploitation of ITER on the other hand, with the laboratories, the so-called Associations, providing the bulk of the competences and the scientific and technical work force."
The European activities contributing to the ITER project, which up to now were implemented under EFDA, will soon be transferred to the new Joint Undertaking. The latter will also provide Euratom's contribution to the "Broader Approach" projects, a collaboration between Europe and Japan aiming at providing important contributions towards a rapid realisation of fusion energy. "In parallel, a new scope for EFDA and a revised set of agreements are being finalised, defining objectives and providing instruments for a reinforced coordination between the European laboratories and a continuation of the collective use of JET", Jérôme Paméla announced. "It is expected that the new EFDA will enter into force after summer, thereby completing the reorganisation of the European fusion programme."