Euratom: 6th Research Framework Programme 2002-2006: agenda annoté (annex) - Conseil recherche, 11 March 2002

March 11, 2002

Bruxelles, le 8 mars 2002

II. EURATOM: 6th RESEARCH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME - 2002-2006

Scientific and technological objectives

Broad lines of activities and priorities

In order to fulfil the objectives concerning nuclear research and training activities as set out in the Euratom Treaty, and in order to contribute to the establishment of the European Research Area, the Euratom Framework Programme will be structured as outlined below.

Participation in the Framework Programme as a whole shall be open to all countries having concluded association agreements with the Community to this effect. Other third countries may participate in the Sixth Framework Programme via bilateral cooperation agreements. Researchers and organisations from third countries may also participate on a case by case basis in projects.

1. PRIORITY THEMATIC AREAS OF RESEARCH

1.1. Controlled thermonuclear fusion

Controlled thermonuclear fusion is a long-term option for energy supply. It could potentially contribute to the requirements of sustainable development for a reliable centralised supply of base-load electricity.

For reasons bound up with the complexity of fundamental knowledge in physics and the technological problems to be resolved, the developments needed for the possible application of fusion for energy production will necessarily take the form of a process in several steps, each of which has an impact on the next one. However, in a more immediate time frame, research into fusion technologies could give rise to useful technological spin-offs.

The efforts deployed in the context of the integrated European research programme on controlled thermonuclear fusion have enabled Europe to become a world leader in the field of research into fusion by magnetic confinement.

The progress made on the research and the results obtained, in particular with the European JET Tokamak, now make it possible to consider moving on to the "Next Step", which would produce a machine capable of generating fusion reactions in conditions comparable to that of an energy production reactor.

The completion of the preparatory work on the detailed design of the "Next Step" in the context of the ITER international cooperation project makes it possible to take a decision about the launching of this project and the construction of the machine.

The objective of this will be to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy production, bearing in mind the socio-economic aspects. The precise arrangements for implementing the project will depend on the outcome of the negotiations at present under way in the framework of international cooperation and subsequent developments, more particularly the decisions taken concerning Europe's contribution to the ITER project and the site where the machine is to be installed. An appropriate legal framework will need to be established.

Participation in the ITER initiative requires the implementation of an accompanying programme including the following elements:

- Operation of the JET machine in such a way as to derive benefit from the improvements currently being made. Possible participation in the research activities needed for the decommissioning of fusion facilities.

- The continuation of research into fusion physics and technology, including: study and evaluation of magnetic confinement formulas, with, in particular, the continuation of the construction of the Wendelstein 7-X "stellarator" and operation of the existing installations in the Euratom Associations;

coordinated activities regarding technological research, in particular research into materials for fusion.

1.2 Management of radioactive waste

Nuclear fission energy today supplies 35% of electricity in the EU. It constitutes an element in the debate on the means of combating climate change and reducing Europe's dependence on imported energy. Some of the power plants of the current generation will continue to be operated for at least 20 years.

For these reasons, the exploitation of nuclear fission energy for energy production requires progress to be made in the problem of waste, and more particularly the individual implementation of technical solutions for the management of long-lived waste.

European public and private sector research efforts with regard to nuclear waste treatment and storage technologies are significant. Through its coordination effects, Community action in this area makes it possible to assemble them into a critical mass and ensure the coherence of the guidelines adopted by the waste management organisations and industries concerned.

Actions will cover both the problem of waste management and the question of reducing its impact. In this connection, they will address the following aspects:

- research into processes for long term storage in deep geological strata, with the networking of the activities carried out on various sites in the three main types of geological formations envisaged;

- research aimed at reducing the impact of waste, in particular through the development of new technologies to reduce the hazards associated with waste by means of partitioning and transmutation techniques, as well as exploring the potential of new concepts for reactors producing less waste.

1.3 Radiation protection

Vigilance is still required to ensure a continuation of the Community's outstanding safety record. The enlargement of the Union also introduces new challenges. The improvement of radiation protection continues to be a priority area. In the Sixth Framework Programme these activities will be carried out mainly in the following areas:
- the quantification of the risks associated with low levels of exposure
- medical exposure and exposure to natural sources
- radio-ecology
- risk and emergency management
- protection of the environment.

2. OTHER ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD OF NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGIES AND SAFETY

The activities carried out under this heading are intended to:
- respond to the scientific and technical needs of the policies of the Community in the fields of health, energy and the environment,
- ensure that the European capability is maintained at a high level in relevant fields not covered by priority thematic areas,
- contribute towards the creation of the European Research Area.

These activities will be carried out mainly in the following areas:

- Innovative concepts: evaluation of concepts that offer advantages, in terms of cost, safety, environmental impact, resource utilisation, proliferation resistance, diversity of application or sustainability for generating nuclear fission energy; development of improved and safer processes for the exploitation of nuclear energy;

- Education and training concerning nuclear safety and radiation protection aimed at integration and consolidation of national efforts to achieve economy of scale, and covering in addition such areas as mobility and human resources, transnational access to infrastructure, and coordination activities;

- Measures for the safety of existing nuclear installations.

3. NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES OF THE JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE (JRC)

JRC's activities will aim to support related Community policies and specific Treaty obligations. Focussing its activities in areas where Community involvement is appropriate, the JRC operates where its European identity provides added-value and where its action is justified by the cross-border aspects of nuclear safety and security or by public concern. The principal objective will be to further develop collaboration through networking, leading to broad consensus on a range of these issues at European and world-level. Special attention will be given to co-operation with Candidate countries. Training activities will be an important component for JRC to help equip the Community with a future generation of scientists with the necessary competencies and expertise. The main areas of research activity will therefore be as follows:

3.1 Nuclear safety and security:

Research into waste treatment and storage (in particular separation and transmutation techniques for long-lived actinides) and radiation protection; safety of different types of reactors with priority for reactors in the candidate countries, and the development of control methods with regard to fissile materials, as well as technical support for nuclear non-proliferation. Staff for monitoring the decommissioning of obsolete nuclear installations will be provided.

3.2 Measurements and reference materials:

Radionuclide metrology, in particular in the case of low activity and round robin tests in the framework of networks of laboratories of excellence; interaction between neutrons and matter for the generation of base data for studies concerning the transmutation of waste and the development of new systems. This activity will principally provide horizontal support for actions under title 3.1 above.

Council document 14/02 (Presse). Cette note n'engage que le Service de Presse

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