For more than 18 months the European Union has been trying to find €1.3 billion to pay for its 2012-13 contribution to the ITER fusion reactor, a €16 billion international project now being built in France. Today a deal was struck that meets those obligations by taking most of the needed cash from agricultural subsidies.
"I am relieved that the extra financial needs of ITER are now covered," said E.U. budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski in a statement after a special meeting in Brussels of representatives from E.U. member states, the European Parliament, and the European Commission, the E.U. executive body. "The E.U. could not afford to lose credibility vis-à-vis its international partners involved in the project. Furthermore, I am pleased that this budgetary deal was made possible thanks to the positive spirit shown by the representatives of both the Council [representing member states] and the Parliament."
ITER has been a thorn in the side of the seven partners—China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States—because its estimated cost has almost tripled since the final agreement was struck in 2006. This is particularly difficult for the European Union because, as host, it must foot 45% of the bill. When the full extent  of the cost overruns became apparent last year, the European Union found that its funding pot for fusion research, which runs to the end of 2013, was short by €1.3 billion. An agreement was made to use unspent funds in the 2010 E.U. budget to pay for the shortfall, but that deal fell victim  to the politicking surrounding the E.U.'s 2011 budget.
Now the three statutory bodies of the European Union have agreed to cobble together €360 million from anticipated unspent funds in the still-to-be-decided 2013 budget. Another €840 million will be found by shifting money from 2012 and 2013 budget lines for farm and fishing subsidies, rural development, and environment, into the ones covering research. The remaining €100 million had already been allocated to ITER in the 2012 budget.
ITER's funding after 2013 remains a bone of contention. The E.U. budget framework for 2014 through 2020 is being negotiated. The commission has proposed that ITER be removed from the E.U. budget altogether and become the responsibility of the E.U. member states directly, but some states have sent a letter  to the commission complaining about the move. The E.U. parties have 2 years to settle the issue.