Foratom calls for more EU funding for research and innovation

03 September 2019

Nuclear research and innovation (R&I) projects need to receive a higher level of financial support from the European Union in order to help the bloc meet its climate and energy goals, according to a new position paper issued by Foratom.

Hot cell laboratories at the JRC Institute for Transuranium Elements (Image: European Commission)

The EU’s institutions are currently working on developing the first strategic plan which will facilitate the implementation of Horizon Europe and create links between its Specific Programme and the future, multiannual Work Programmes (2021-2024). The plan will identify key areas for the R&I support.

More EU funding should be allocated to those areas which provide the most added value, and which can, in particular, help the EU decarbonise its economy, the European nuclear trade body, said today. In addition, synergies between the various EU R&I programmes, such as Horizon Europe and Euratom Research and Training 2021-2025, should be ensured to enable cross-sectoral innovation cooperation, it added.

Foratom Director General Yves Desbazeille said the Euratom Research & Training and Horizon Europe programmes should support the development of nuclear R&I as not only will this help the EU decarbonise its power sector, but it will also increase the bloc’s energy security by reducing dependence on energy imports.
Several international organisations have recently highlighted the role nuclear energy has to play in the fight against climate change, Foratom noted.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that nuclear power is essential if the world is to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees; the International Energy Agency underlines that “a steep decline in nuclear power would threaten energy security and climate goals”; and the European Commission’s recent 2050 strategic long-term vision ‘Clean Planet for All’ recognises that nuclear, together with renewables, will form the backbone of a 2050 carbon-free Europe.

In addition, the EU’s Energy Union Strategy states that “the EU should ensure it maintains technological leadership in the nuclear domain … so as not to increase energy and technology dependence”.

Foratom said this poses a serious challenge as the EU is currently lagging behind other global players such as China, Russia and the USA as far as the level of investment in nuclear R&I is concerned.

In its position paper, Foratom makes four recommendations. First that the Euratom 2021-2025 funding envelope for fission R&D should be increased to enable greater parity at an international level to promote pan-EU nuclear innovation. Second that Horizon Europe and Euratom 2021-2025 “should truly complement each other”, which means linking common themes and cross-cutting aspects across each programme to allow stakeholders to innovate in areas under Horizon Europe ‘missions' “without bias or exclusion”. Third that cohesion with R&I set out in the SET Plan Action 10 ‘Nuclear’ must also be considered and support provided to shared benefits across R&I programmes. And finally, the scope of the Euratom R&T 2021-2025 programme should reflect the actions being undertaken by the Member States, industry and academia.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News