Abstract In view of the preparation for the operation of the ITER tokamak it is necessary to develop the plasma scenarios taking into account all engineering constraints coming from the plant and including a realistic control system. It is important to consider that, due to the high energy of ITER plasmas, much more stringent requirements are posed on the control of transients in order to avoid machine damage. Several activities are performed in the EU focusing on one side on the scenario optimization from a physics point of view and on the other side on the design and modeling of a realistic plasma control system driving the plasma configuration throughout the whole pulse and suitable for implementation on a real machine. The issues related to the computation of the control feed-forward component are addressed. In particular, the possibility to trigger a feed-forward component to solve controllability problems arising in the transitions from plasma L to H and H to L modes is studied in detail with the support of linear and non-linear simulations. A control strategy is designed and tested on non-linear simulations of the whole pulse, including linear and non-linear effects due to controller switching, plasma shape reconstruction and power supplies. The paper reports on the results of the studies performed and discuss the proposed design of the plasma control system.