24 March 2020
Council message concerning the coronavirus crisis
The CoVid-19 outbreak threatens the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of people, and affects the everyday lives of millions. The scientific communities of the CERN Member States, Associate Member States and partners are now mobilising their efforts in their national laboratories, especially at light sources, to maintain operations to help develop a cure. During this first remote meeting of the CERN Council, our thoughts go out to all those who have suffered or are suffering directly as a consequence of the coronavirus. We have particular admiration for those in the medical profession around the world who are so selflessly putting themselves in the front-line of this battle. As host to a global community, CERN is particularly sensitive to the evolution of the pandemic. Most of the countries affected by CoVid-19 have links to CERN, and we are thinking of all those touched by the virus at this time.
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 2 600 staff members, the laboratory provides accelerator-based research infrastructures used by currently around 12 500 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