The mission of CERN is to provide for collaboration among European States in nuclear and particle physics research of a pure scientific and fundamental character. Founded in 1954 as an intergovernmental organisation, the laboratory has its headquarters in Geneva and its site has extended over time from Switzerland into France. With about 2600 staff members, the laboratory provides accelerator-based research infrastructures used by currently more than 13 000 users from all over the world. CERN operates in particular the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest proton collider ever built, which led to the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. During the upcoming high luminosity upgrade programme of the LHC, the unique properties of the Higgs boson will be studied in detail among many other research topics.
According to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Organization for Nuclear Research, established by the twelve founding members of CERN, the Council is the supreme decision-making authority of the Organization, composed by delegates of all its twenty-three Member States.
The Council determines the Organization’s policy in scientific, technical and administrative matters, defines its strategic programmes, sets and follows up its annual goals, and approves its budget. The Council also appoints the Director-General who is the Organization’s chief executive officer and legal representative. The Council typically meets four times a year, under the chairmanship of the President, with the Director-General acting as Secretary.
The Scientific Policy Committee (SPC) and the Finance Committee (FC) are the two main advisory bodies of the Council and meet in the days leading up to the Council Session. The Tripartite Employment Conditions Forum (TREF) prepares the Council’s decisions relating to the conditions applicable to the CERN personnel and comprises representatives of the CERN Staff Association, of the CERN Management and of the Member States. The Audit Committee (AC) comprises Council and Finance Committee representatives and distinguished external experts, and provides oversight of the Organisation’s governance, risk management and internal control arrangements. Finally, the Council is assisted by the Pension Fund Governing Board to which it has entrusted the oversight of CERN’s Pension Fund .
Through the Council's adoption of the first European Strategy for Particle Physics in July 2006 and the subsequent Update of this Strategy in May 2013, CERN has assumed its mandate of organising and sponsoring international cooperation in particle physics and related fields not only inside, but also outside the Laboratory. Launched in 2018, the current Strategy update process will deliver its conclusions in spring 2020. This will be an important step in defining the future priorities of European particle physics and for the infrastructures which should follow the LHC.
I hope you will find in these pages everything you need to know about the issues addressed by the CERN Council, the decisions taken and news about the Council's other fields of activity.
President of the CERN Council