#FORATOM – EU needs to allocate more funds to nuclear research and innovation

| September 4, 2019
Nuclear research and innovation (R&I) projects need to receive a higher level of financial support from the European Union (EU) in order to help the bloc meet its climate and energy goals, according to a new position paper issued by FORATOM. 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. 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 co-operation.

“If the EU is serious about decarbonising its economy by 2050, then more EU funding should be allocated to R&I in low-carbon nuclear as this will help the EU achieve its goal,” said FORATOM Director General Yves Desbazeille. “The Euratom Research & Training and Horizon Europe programmes should support the development of nuclear R&I as not only will this help the EU decarbonize its power sector, but it will also increase the bloc’s energy security by reducing dependence on energy imports.”

Several international organizations have recently highlighted the role nuclear energy has to play in the fight against climate change. 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. Also, 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”. This poses a serious challenge as the EU is currently lagging behind other global players such as China, Russia and the US as far as the level of investment in nuclear R&I is concerned.

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. FORATOM takes this opportunity to forward the following policy recommendations which can help the EU address the current challenges:

  1. 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.
  2. Horizon Europe and Euratom 2021-2025 should truly complement each other. This 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The scope of the Euratom R&T 2021-2025 programme should reflect the actions being undertaken by the Member States, industry and academia.

Read FORATOM’s position paper to find out more.

The European Atomic Forum (FORATOM) is the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe. The membership of FORATOM is made up of 15 national nuclear associations. FORATOM represents nearly 3,000 European companies working in the industry, which supports around 1,100,000 jobs in the European Union.

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