1 May 2004: day one for the enlarged European Union! Ten more countries have joined the EU: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania hope to do so in 2007. After earlier expansions from 6 to 15 members, we are now experiencing the largest enlargement in the history of European integration. The population of the EU has increased by about 70 million – including many highly qualified scientists and talented researchers.

Several of the new Member States (MS) were already associated to EURATOM prior to 1 May, and had established substantial fusion activities under FP5/6-EURATOM: Contracts of Association were established with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia and Romania. All of the Associations in the new MS and candidate countries are also members of EFDA.

Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia participated through Cost-Sharing Actions. Collaborations among laboratories in the ‘new’ and ‘old’ MS formed an important aspect of these activities and were supported by the Agreement on Staff Mobility and EURATOM fellowships. The level of activity in fusion research varies among the new MS, and it is a challenge to the whole fusion community to enhance their participation in the fully integrated European fusion programme. In order to facilitate a rapid integration of fusion activities in the new and future MS, a kick-off workshop was held on 24 and 25 May in Garching (see also page 3) bringing together senior representatives from the new partners, EFDA and the existing Associations. A second meeting is planned later to enhance the impact and to follow up on the initiatives being developed.

Public Information (PI) on fusion in the new EU Member States

Surveys such as the Eurobarometer study on the perception of Science & Technology issued in January 2003 (http://europa.eu.int/comm/public_opinion/index_en.htm) have shown that the general public in the new MS does not feel well informed about science. The PI activities of the fusion community therefore have an important role to play in fostering a general understanding of the relevance of fusion research and the value of EU level support and co-ordination. To achieve this goal it is crucial to address both the general public and decision makers. In order to attract a wide audience, it is essential to present fusion research within the general context of energy research and to explain societal aspects of energy supply and use. The fusion community also needs to extend its range of contacts, building on existing links in fusion R&D, National Contact Points, Information Centres, local science communication associations, etc.

Active involvement of fusion researchers in the new MS in the existing fusion PI infrastructure is being fostered through the Committee on Public Information (CPI), which oversees and co-ordinates the PI activities of the EU fusion community. This co-ordination work is supported by the Public Information Group (PIG) and the Public Information Network (PIN). The Commission services assist the PI efforts of national contacts in fusion R&D by providing PI material, such as presentations on fusion R&D, for potential partners and educational events, information sheets on Associations, brochures and by supporting the Fusion Expo events.

The Fusion Expo has proved to be a very powerful tool in developing the participation of the new MS in the general PI activities in fusion – in several cases it has been the trigger to a much deeper involvement in this aspect of fusion research. The number of venues in the new and future MS playing host to the Fusion Expo is rising, and in 2004 Expo visits to Poland (Poznan, Krakow and Warsaw), Latvia (Riga) and Bulgaria (Sofia) are planned, while Slovenia (Ljubljana) is already pencilled in for 2005.

Several of the new MS are already playing an active role in PI activities:

• The Association EURATOM/IPP-CR (Czech Republic) has a new department “Scientific information and popularisation”, and one of their staff members has been filling a position in Public Relations at EFDA JET, Culham (UK) since March 2003.

• The Association EURATOM/HAS (Hungary) hosted the Fusion Expo at the Millenaris Park in Budapest in October 2003. Over 3200 visitors saw the Expo, including 2100 school students. A strong media coverage further boosted public exposure, reaching a much wider audience and resulting in a highly effective PI event. The Association is now considering the possibility of contributing to the EIROforum education activities.

• In Poland, Gdansk hosted the Fusion Expo in September 2003, for the opening of the Hewelianum Science Centre and generated significant media coverage (press, radio, TV). A total of 3200 visitors, including 126 school groups, saw the Expo. The exhibitions held this April in Poznan (University of Poznan) and Krakow (Universityof Mining and Metallurgy) were also very successful, and during May the exhibition has moved on to the Warsaw University Faculty of Physics.

These few examples illustrate the enthusiasm with which our colleagues in the new MS are promoting a better understanding of fusion research in their countries. Their activities will benefit the entire fusion community and it is therefore essential that the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ communities of EU fusion researchers work closely together in expanding our effectiveness in communicating the inherent benefits of fusion energy to the wider public and in awakening a new generation of talented scientists and engineers to the excitement of our research.

Czech Republic
Association EURATOM-IPP-CZ Institute of Plasma Physics Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague


University of Tartu Institute of Physics, Tartu


Association EURATOM-HAS KFKI-Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics, Budapest


Association EURATOM/ University of Latvia Institute of Solid State Physics, Riga


Institute of Plasma Physics and Laser Microfusion, Warsaw


Slovak Republic
Research Institute for Nuclear Power Plants, Trnava

Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana


Cyprus, Lithuania and Malta are about to organise their Plasma Physics Programmes.