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ITER nuclear fusion

No austerity for ITER with EU budget to bankroll ballooning funding costs

The European Parliament's budget committee is today set to approve a deal reached between EP negotiators and the Council on how to meet €1.3 billion in additional funding requirements for the ITER nuclear fusion project under the EU budget (1). The Greens have hit out at the deal, which will see more money from European taxpayers channelled into the runaway budget for ITER, even though nuclear fusion will make no contribution to the European economy in the medium-term. After the vote, Green co-president Rebecca Harms said:

“This is a bad deal for European taxpayers and reflects gross hypocrisy on the part of EU governments, who are arguing for austerity across Europe but not for ITER. Nuclear fusion is a technology that will not be commercially-viable before 2050, if at all, and implies inherent risks, as with any nuclear project. Instead of wasting more public funds on the runaway ITER budget, the Council should pull the plug and focus on funding safe and sustainable energy technologies that can deliver a return in the short-term, like efficiency and renewables."

Green budgetary spokesperson Helga Trüpel added:

“Under this deal, ITER will remain a ticking budgetary time bomb, with a decision on how the €360 million should be funded under the 2013 budget having been postponed. There is a real risk that Council will again push for this funding to be included under the EU's research budget, which would come at the expense of green technologies like renewables and energy efficiency. The Greens believe that no more public funding should be wasted on this project.”

(1) Under the deal, reached on Thursday, the additional €1.3 billion in overrun funding costs for ITER will be funded from the EU budgets in 2012 and 2013. €100 million is already planned in the 2012 budget, with a further €840 million to come from unspent EU funds from 2011. The extra €360 million will be financed under the 2013 budget, with a decision on the exact budget heading under which the funds should come to be taken as part of the budget negotiations next year.