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  • Cross-sector advocacy | The fusion knights

    Developing fusion as a usable energy source requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. At last week's ITER workshop, fusion advocacy organizations showed the role [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

Fusion world

Post-Euratom UK "open" to collaboration with EU and ITER

Three years and close to eight months ago, on 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union and, consequently, from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). However in December of that same year, an agreement was signed that provided a temporary framework for some forms of cooperation and discussions on possible future association. Last week, on Thursday 7 September, the government of the United Kingdom officially made public its decision to associate with European research by re-joining the Horizon Europe and Copernicus programs through a bespoke new agreement, but to leave the Euratom Community for good.

Last week, on Thursday 7 September, the government of the United Kingdom officially made public its decision to leave the Euratom Community for good. Severing ties with Euratom, however, does not mean ending the potential for collaboration with ITER. (Click to view larger version...)
Last week, on Thursday 7 September, the government of the United Kingdom officially made public its decision to leave the Euratom Community for good. Severing ties with Euratom, however, does not mean ending the potential for collaboration with ITER.
In the official government declaration, a paragraph states how the United Kingdom would approach fusion research from now on: "In line with the preferences of the UK fusion sector, the UK has decided to pursue a domestic fusion energy strategy instead of associating to the EU's Euratom programme. This will involve close international collaboration, including with European partners, and a new, cutting-edge alternative programme, backed by up to £650m to 2027." The European Commission acknowledged that "this decision [was] guided by the UK's assessment that its industry's long absence from Euratom and Fusion For Energy/ITER programmes cannot be reversed."

Severing ties with Euratom, however, does not mean ending the potential for collaboration with ITER. In a subsequent communication on 7 September, the government of the United Kingdom clearly stated that the domestic program it has chosen to pursue "fully aligns with the core principle of international collaboration in the UK fusion strategy" and assured it remained "open to such collaboration including with the EU and ITER."

For Sir Ian Chapman, the CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the government's decision was a welcome clarification, one that "provides the certainty needed by the sector." There is no doubt in his mind that "there is a huge amount that the UK can offer to ITER, but reciprocally there's a huge amount that we would benefit from being in ITER. We will be seeking pathways to continue our engagement with the ITER Project and we think that will be genuinely to mutual benefit." (Watch video here)

International collaboration has been at the core of fusion research—its hallmark and very DNA—for the past seventy years. "We still trust that the UK will retain a strong interest to continue to be engaged in one form or another in the ITER Project," commented ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi. "We expect that now that the overall negotiation on Horizon has been completed, it will be possible to collectively seek ways to achieve these objectives."



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