In the midst of its internal problems, the European Union has something to celebrate on the external front. Its victory in the contest to host the world's leading energy technology project brings to a successful conclusion years of tense negotiations. It is a triumph of EU diplomacy and a demonstration of what can be achieved when member states work together.

This 10 billion project, known as ITER, will not only bring jobs and investment to Cadarache, the selected site in southern France. It will also have a significant scientific and economic trickle-down effect across Europe.

And by skilful negotiating, the EU has managed to keep together the six-country consortium that will fund it - including the losing candidate, Japan, and Japan's supporters, South Korea and the United States.

The tactics included a carefully calculated gamble: earlier this year the EU indicated it was ready to strike a Cadarache-based deal just with China and Russia, leaving its opponents out of the project altogether. Like a hardened poker player, stuck to its position, Japan blinked first, and Japan's supporters fell into line.

One of the crucial elements in this success was that, during the negotiations, all EU member states agreed to back a single EU site for ITER. This required a major concession from Spain, which had been arguing...

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