European scientists, please give a part of your budget for ITER

An Agriculture and Fish Council took place on the 12th of July. What is the link with ITER? no idea, but the funds for ITER were on the A-list of priorities and it an agreement was found on the extra 1.4 billions euros.  And this money comes from a variety of sources (an appropriate mix of financial resources), among  them, the Framework Program 7.

Several sources report on these news:

EU member states agree on Iter funding shortfall

Europe-based Fusion Project Draws Heat Over Funding

Fusion reactor gets EU go-ahead

EU states say no to more fusion money

How a flagship fusion project became ‘a small catastrophe’ for research

Member states refuse ‘fresh’ funding for ITER

Well, as explained before, it is a small catastrophe: first, the increase of budget is taken for granted and we do not know what kind of extra measures are taken to avoid another slip in the costs (cost containment). Second, the image of fusion research is tarnished.

As a basic researcher, I could say, “well, this is politics, I am not responsible for this kind of decision, anyway it is better for me, I can keep my job”. It can be a common attitude when we are bogged down in the details of the day-to-day work on nuclear fusion: we are facing so many problems, most of the researchers are dealing only with a tiny fraction of the whole physics and engineering and tends to forget the big picture: the achievement of a new huge source of energy, as green as possible.

But it is the wrong approach: politicians gave us, with this decision, a huge responsibility: to make nuclear fusion work. We have to keep it in mind. We have to do our best efforts to achieve this goal. ITER is certainly a model of wrong management but it remains the symbol of the political support. We have to use all the resources available to make it work, not only from ITER but from other tokamaks, test benches, computational infrastructures… At the end of the day, we should think: “today I did my best to understand and improve tokamaks”. Only with highly skilled and motivated people, we will be able to harness this energy.


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