European Parliament renews its support to the ITER Project
On 27 October 2016, the European Parliament (EP) gave its final approval on the accounts of Fusion for Energy (F4E) for the financial year of 2014 which had been postponed awaiting decisions on a revised schedule for the ITER project. The European Parliament, on the recommendation of its Budgetary Control Committee, decided with an overwhelming majority: 436 in favour, 170 against and 18 abstentions. With this decision, the European Parliament has recognized the significant efforts and improvements which have been made in the last period in the ITER Project. Continued support of the European Parliament to the project is crucial to the success of Europe's efforts in bringing the international project ‘back on track’.
The EP has the final say on approving the way EU bodies spend money from the EU budget. In the annual “discharge” procedure, it verifies whether EU funds were spent according to the rules. It may grant, postpone or refuse to grant a discharge, which is required for the formal closure of institutional accounts.
On 28 April, the EP had postponed the discharge for the 2014 annual accounts of Fusion for Energy (F4E) pending information on the revised schedule and cost estimate of the ITER project which were under discussion amongst the ITER Parties. The EP, while recommending a postponement of the discharge, had explicitly recognized the positive assurance given by the European Court of Auditors as to the reliability of F4E accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions. The recommendation thus did not put into question the management of the EU funds by F4E, but was instead a request for more solid information on the overall cost and timeframe of the project.
At its meeting of 16 of June 2016, and following a two-year effort by the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies to establish a new baseline schedule, the ITER Council (representatives of the seven ITER parties: Europe, US, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea and India) endorsed the updated Integrated Schedule for the ITER Project, which identifies the date of First Plasma as December 2025.
ITER is a complex international project, pushing the boundaries of current technologies. As a consequence, it requires adjustments in terms of budget and planning, common to such large-scale projects. All seven international ITER Parties, and Europe in particular, are conscious of these challenges and have taken significant steps to dramatically improve the way the project is being managed.
ITER is a first-of-a-kind global collaboration. It will be the world's largest experimental fusion facility and is designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion, the process which powers the sun and the stars. Fusion research is aimed at developing a safe, limitless and environmentally responsible energy source.
The ITER project is part of the European Energy Union which aims to ensure that Europe has secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy. Wiser energy use while fighting climate change is both a spur for new jobs and growth and an investment in Europe's future.