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Commission rejects Council of Ministers’ Iter plans

The European Commission has rejected the Council of Ministers’ suggestion that the spiralling costs at Iter, the international fusion research project based in France, should be paid out of the existing EU budget, according to internal documents seen by Research Europe.

“The approach outlined by the Council would not resolve the long-term financing problems of Iter, and would not secure the viability of the project,” reads a statement from the Commission attached to the Council’s conclusions. “Therefore the Commission reserves its position concerning the approval of the project baseline as well as its right to make more appropriate proposals to the budgetary authority.”

On 5 May, the Commission asked member states to provide more money to cover rising costs at Iter. But on 12 July, member states decided that the extra 1.4billion euros needed for Europe’s contribution to Iter should come out of the existing budget, and singled out the 1a funding line, which includes Framework 7 and innovation funding, as the preferred source.

On 22 July, the European Commission will present a second proposal to diplomats and ministers in Brussels, which could include a plan to share costs between the Commission and member states. A Brussels-based diplomat told Research Europe that the Commission wants the funding arrangements to be finalised during the next Competitiveness Council meeting in November.