Documents considered by the Committee on 27 April 2011 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents


5   Euratom Framework Programme for Nuclear Research and Training (2012-13)

(a)

(32572)

7421/11

COM(11) 72


Draft Council Decision concerning the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-13)
(b)

(32569)

7402/11

COM(11) 73


Draft Council Decision concerning the specific programme, to be carried out by indirect actions, implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-13)
(c)

(32573)

7404/11

COM(11) 74


Draft Council Decision concerning the specific programme, to be carried out by direct actions of the Joint Research Centre, implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-13)
(d)

(32574)

7418/11

COM(11) 71


Draft Council Regulation (Euratom) laying down the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in by indirect actions under the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-13)

Legal baseArticle 7 Euratom; unanimity
Document originated7 March 2011
Deposited in Parliament11 March 2011
DepartmentBusiness, Innovation and Skills
Basis of considerationEM of 4 April 2011
Previous Committee ReportNone, but see footnotes
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

5.1  On 4 July 2005, our predecessors drew to the attention of the House a draft Decision[27] on the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2007-2011), which incorporated three programmes — fusion energy research (notably in connection with the international energy research project (ITER)), nuclear fission and radiation protection (including the management of nuclear waste), and the nuclear activities of the Joint Research Centre. They subsequently reported on 5 July 2006 a further draft Decision[28] reflecting agreement that allocations of €2.2 billion should be made for fusion projects, €517 million for nuclear waste management billion, and €1.7 billion for the Joint Research Centre.

The current proposals

5.2  This package of proposals seeks to ensure the continuation of EU-funded research in this area during 2012 and 2013, the remaining two years of the current financial perspective. In doing so, it brings the financing of the research in question (where programmes are limited by the Euratom treaty to five years) into line with that of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (which covers the period 2007-13), and, according to the Commission, it is also linked to the Europe 2020 and Energy 2020 strategies, as well as contributing to the Innovation Union flagship initiative.

5.3  The Euratom Framework Programme for 2012-13 (document (a)) contains broadly the same scientific, technical and strategic objectives and uses the same funding schemes as the current Programme for 2007-2011, its aim being:

  • in the area of fusion energy research, to develop the technology for a safe, sustainable, environmentally-responsible and economically-viable energy source; and
  • in the area of nuclear fission and radiation protection, to enhance the safety, resource efficiency and cost-effectiveness of nuclear fission and other uses of radiation in industry and medicine, and to enhance nuclear security (nuclear safeguards, non-proliferation, combating illicit trafficking and nuclear forensics).

5.4  The maximum amount available for the implementation of the Programme in 2012-13 would be €2.56 billion, of which €2.2 billion would be for indirect actions on fusion energy research (including €1.3 billion for ITER, in accordance with the Council's decision on the Communication[29] put forward by the Commission in May 2010) and €118 million for research on nuclear fission and radiation protection, with €233 million for direct actions for activities of the Joint Research Centre in the field of nuclear energy covering nuclear waste management, environmental impact and basic knowledge, nuclear safety, and nuclear safeguards and security. The detailed implementing rules fixing the duration of programmes and providing for the necessary means are set out in document (b) as regards indirect actions, and in document (c) as regards the Joint Research Centre. Document (d) lays down the rules governing the participation in indirect actions under the Framework Programme of undertakings, research centres and universities, as well as the dissemination of research results, and, according to the Commission, these are based on the same principles established under the Programme for 2007-11.

The Government's view

5.5  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 4 April 2011, the Minister of State for Universities and Science at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr David Willetts) confirms that the new programme contains broadly the same scientific, technical, and strategic objectives and uses the same funding schemes as the current one, the most significant new development being the adoption and endorsement, as part of the approach to addressing future energy challenges, of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan, which aims to accelerate the development and deployment of cost-effective low carbon technologies.

5.6  The Minister notes that the fusion energy research is the largest programme, reflecting the ITER project which is hosted in the EU, and that the UK has long supported this as the route to practical fusion power stations. He also recalls that — as recorded in our Report of 8 September 2010 on the relevant Commission Communication — the Council has agreed a limit of €6.6 billion on the European contribution to the cost of ITER construction up to 2020, and that the UK's Joint European Torus (JET) facility, which he says is vital to the early success of ITER, is supported by the Euratom fusion research programme and JET.

Conclusion

5.7  Bearing in mind the significance of the ITER project within the proposed Framework Programme, and the issues highlighted in our Report of 8 September 2010,[30] we think it right to draw these documents to the attention of the House, given also the public interest in nuclear research. Having said that, it is clear that what is now proposed is essentially a continuation for a further two years of the arrangements which have applied under the Framework Programme for 2007-11, and that in general it does not give rise to any novel issues. For these reasons, we are content to clear the documents.





27   (26503) 8156/05: see HC 34-i (2005-06), chapter 21 (4 July 2005). Back

28   (27525) 10233/06: see HC 34-xxxiv (2005-06), chapter 7 (5 July 2006) Back

29   (31601) 9424/10: see HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 27 (8 September 2010). Back

30   Ibid. Back


 
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