The EC is addressing the issue of the choice of a site in Europe, either Cadarache in France or Vandellòs in Spain, and the situation now that China and the USA have joined the project with the EU, Russia, Canada and Japan. Canada and Japan have also each offered a site.

The international agreement to launch the operational phase of ITER, including selection of the site and the cost-sharing arrangements, is due to be concluded by the end of 2003. To give Europe the best chance of siting ITER, the EU must quickly agree on a single European candidate site.

The EC plans to establish objective criteria covering site preparation and the scientific, technical and social environment, particularly the political, financial and administrative guarantees that the site and its surroundings can be prepared within the deadlines laid down and that the regulatory authorities will be in a position to issue the necessary permits in good time.

Philippe Busquin said: "Europe’s fusion research has a solid foundation, with firmly established networks of excellence. We must give ourselves the best chance to build ITER in Europe. The task facing us now is to rally together, in a carefully controlled consensus-building process, to select the EU’s candidate site." Meanwhile, a committee of the German parliament is considering a proposal for an area in the east of the country to be recommended as a candidate site for the ITER project. The area suggested was the former Greifswald nuclear power plant, that comprised five VVER-440 units, that had been closed in 1990.