A delegation of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee visited F4E on 17 February to learn more about the organisation and receive an update regarding the progress of the ITER project. The new term of the European Parliament started in June 2009, where 736 MEPs were elected to represent almost 500 million of Europeans. Historically, the European Parliament has always been a key actor towards the design of the EU’s R&D policy and its role is expected to increase under the newly ratified Lisbon Treaty where technological progress has for the first time become a specific objective of the European Union.
Frank Briscoe, Director of F4E, together with Carlos Varandas, Chairman of the F4E Governing Board, and Octavi Quintana-Trias, Director of the European Commission for Euratom, welcomed the members of the delegation and briefed them on a series of topics: the science behind fusion and its contribution towards a sustainable energy mix in line with the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan, Europe’s in kind contribution to ITER and the opportunities for industry and SMEs and last but not least the knowledge capital together with the technology spin-offs that will boost Europe’s competitiveness.
left to right: MEPs: C.Trautmann, T.Riera-Madurell, M.Badia i Cutchet, A.F.Correia de Campos
left to right: MEPs: R.Bütikofer, P.Rübig, N.Glante, H.Reul
Herbert Reul, Chair of the ITRE Committee and Head of Delegation, asserted that the EP firmly believed in this project because all possible options need to be explored in order to respond to the energy supply crisis that we face. He also referred to the ITER experiment as an opportunity for Europe to be involved in projects of cutting edge technology at the forefront of science.
The briefings triggered off a lively debate where MEPs raised a number of questions regarding tomorrow’s energy mix and the contribution of fusion energy, the ITER schedule and cost, measures in place to help SMEs and implement the Small Business Act, and lessons that can be drawn from the ITER experiment. The Delegation of the ITRE Committee confirmed its support for the project bearing in mind the challenges ahead as well as the opportunities that a project like this could offer in times when Europe’s economy is in need of a stimulus to get innovation and productivity working hand in hand.