In the week of 24-28 of January the European Parliament was the scene of a fusion dinner- debate and an exhibition on ITER and fusion energy. The events were organised by M. Beurskens of the Association EURATOM FOM-Rijnhuizen (The Netherlands), together with K.-H. Steuer and S. Girten of the Association EURATOM-IPP Garching (Germany).

Almost 90 guests gathered in the Members Salon at the European Parliament on January 25 for a special dinner-debate on the role of fusion in the future energy mix. Among the guests were about 30 members of the European Parliament from many countries, an equal number of distinguished guests from the European fusion community, and a number of representatives of the European Commission, the World Energy Council and the Dutch ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs. The event was hosted by the Dutch MEP Dr. D. Corbey, who also gave the opening and closing addresses, in which she stressed the need to be clear about the return on investment and potential spin-offs of fusion research. Prof. N. Lopes Cardozo, head of fusion research at FOM-Rijnhuizen, acted as chairman. He introduced the energy problems of the modern world in a short speech.

After the starter, Prof. Sir C. Llewellyn Smith, director of the Association EURATOM-UKAEA, addressed the current developments of fusion research and the role of ITER towards sustainable and commercial exploitation of fusion power. He pointed out that fusion is among the very few options that can contribute significantly to a truly sustainable energy system, and that all options require an increased level of funding. After the main course, Prof. J. Li, Director of the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, spoke about China’s economic ambitions, and its growing energy needs. “China wants to be among the first nations to employ commercial fusion power,” he said. Li explained that at the moment, China is the second largest CO2 producing country, and already the world second largest oil importer. Li spoke words of praise to the European governments for their far-sightedness in spearheading the development of fusion energy. Between the courses, lively discussions were heard at the dinner tables. The general opinion that arose from the plenary discussion was very supportive of fusion, with questions mainly focusing on matters of finance and spin-off.

In the same week that the Dinner Debate was held, an exhibition was held at a central location in the European Parliament. It featured the Fusion Road Show, the ITER model and other Fusion Expo items, and introductory posters. The exhibition was set up and manned by colleagues from the EURATOM Associations UKAEA, ERM, HAS, ENEA, and FOM, together forming a very good representation of the European fusion programme.

The exhibition drew about 400 visitors, among them many MEPs or their assistants. Generally, the visitors were genuinely interested in fusion energy, and engaged in discussion with the crew of the fusion exposition. The general perception was that the energy problem has significantly risen on the political agenda, that people start to realise the full proportion of it, and are quite willing to consider new technologies, in particular fusion. Some 800 Fusion CD-Roms and 400 brochures on fusion were handed out.