Geneva 12 December 2008. The CERN1 council today thanked the organization’s outgoing management, and welcomed in the new. It was an occasion to take stock of the achievements of the past five years and to look forward to the next. Outgoing Director-General Robert Aymar, looked back on his five years at the helm, while new Director-General, Rolf Heuer, presented his vision for the future. In other council business, Romania was welcomed as a Candidate for Accession as Member State of CERN; and the groundwork was laid for a study of geographical and scientific extension of the role of CERN. Council also established the practical procedures for following projects relevant to the European Strategy for Particle Physics.
“We heartily thank Dr Aymar and his team for the skill with which they have guided CERN through the difficult final years of LHC completion,” said president of council Torsten Åkesson, “and we wish every success to Professor Heuer and his team for the first years of LHC operation.”
The mandate of Dr Aymar encompassed the 50th anniversary of CERN and the first beams in the LHC.
“It has been a privilege to lead this great organization for the last five years,” said Dr Aymar, “my mandate started on a high note, the celebration of 50 years at the cutting edge of science and innovation, and it is also finishing on a positive. After a year of highs and lows, I am leaving CERN with a clear route to physics at the LHC in 2009.”
CERN council was informed of the actions taken following the LHC incident of 19 September. The Scientific Policy Committee, an advisory body for council, had an extensive session on this issue and reported its findings to council, endorsing the robust manner in which CERN is addressing the issue.
“We have been impressed by the rapid and professional manner in which this situation has been mastered,” said Professor Åkesson, “and look forward to the LHC experiments collecting their first colliding beam data in 2009.”
Council’s confidence was underlined by its endorsement of the existing LHC project management team until the machine is handed over for routine operation.
Presenting his ambition for the future, Professor Heuer stressed that physics at the LHC would be the top priority for 2009. Looking further ahead, he outlined his vision of a key role for CERN in an increasingly global basic research environment.
“CERN is a European lab hosting a global project,” he said. “The LHC project has evolved this way. In the future, however, we need to go further, working together with our partners around the world on the basic programme, with national projects, regional projects and global projects all serving a common goal. Now is the time for us to lay the foundations for such future programmes, which will be built on strong national and regional pillars in the Americas, Europe and Asia. In my view, CERN is Europe’s pillar.”
Following a period of study, Romania was formally accepted as a Candidate for Accession to membership of CERN. Romania’s membership will be phased in over a five-year period during which the country’s contributions will ramp up to normal Member State levels in parallel with Romanian participation in CERN projects.
Setting a marker for the future, council approved the creation of a study group to examine the geographical and scientific enlargement of CERN. This group will hold its first meetings early in 2009.
In its European Strategy Session, council decided on the procedure to recognize and follow projects that are relevant to the European Strategy for Particle Physics, including projects that are not necessarily based at the CERN Geneva laboratory. Council also recognized four FP7 projects related to accelerator R&D and future facilities according to these new procedures.
“With these decisions, council has started the process of following the implementation of the Strategy on a broad European basis,” said Professor Steinar Stapnes, the Scientific Secretary of the European Strategy Session of Council.