The European Union and Romania laid Friday the cornerstone of a research hub due to host the world's most powerful laser.
"The project is of particular importance not only for Romania and also for Europe as a whole.," European commissioner for regional policy Johannes Hahn told a press conference alongside Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
"Its cutting-edge technology will be used by researchers all over the world," he added.
Known as "Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics" (ELI-NP), it will serve as a pan-European laboratory and host a broad range of scientific disciplines including fundamental physics, new nuclear physics and astrophysics but also life sciences.
ELI-NP, the most important research project in the newer EU member states, will create jobs and "turn brain-drain into brain circulation" in the region, Hahn stressed.
"It is for the first time that structural funds will finance a basic research infrastructure project," he added, stressing that the EU earmarked 150 million euros ($199.9 million) for it.
Some 40 academic and research institutions from 13 EU countries are involved in the programme which includes two other pillars, in the Czech Republic and Hungary.