The European Commission last week adopted the Euratom Work Programme 2021–2022, implementing the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021–2025, a complement to Horizon Europe, the European Union’s key funding program for research and innovation.
The work program outlines the specific topic areas that will receive €300 million (about $354 million) in funding to support fusion research and promote progress in a range of areas, from improving nuclear safety and radiation protection to boosting non-owner applications of nuclear technology.
The workload: In the fusion arena, the Euratom Work Programme sets a strategy for EUROfusion, the EU’s consortium of fusion laboratories. According to a July 2 EC press release, “The strategy aims to ensure the success of ITER . . . and to advance demonstration power plant preparations. The Fusion Partnership will deliver the necessary knowledge, will prepare European teams for the exploitation of ITER, and will provide the training of a new generation of fusion scientists and engineers.
“In fission,” the EC says, “the Euratom Work Programme will ensure the highest standards of nuclear safety of power plants, research reactors, materials, and fuels. These activities also include radioactive waste management and decommissioning, such as the European Joint Programme on Radioactive Waste Management and the Radiation Protection European Partnership.”
The work program also takes decisive steps in education and training to ensure that the EU will maintain nuclear competencies, the commission says, adding that nuclear scientists will be eligible to participate in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie action calls for postdoctoral fellowships under Horizon Europe.
Five-year plan: The Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021–2025—the budget for which is €1.38 billion (about $1.63 billion)—has the following specific objectives, according to the EC:
- Improve and support nuclear safety, security, safeguards, radiation protection, safe spent fuel and radioactive waste management, and decommissioning.
- Maintain and further develop expertise and competence in the nuclear field within the community.
- Foster the development of fusion energy as a potential future energy source for electricity production and contribute to the implementation of the European fusion road map.
- Support the policy of the EU and its members on continuous improvement of nuclear safety, safeguards, and security.