Yesterday concluded the first meeting of Council of 2015, and the first since the Swiss National Bank unpegged the Swiss Franc from the Euro. That decision led to a very rapid shift in the exchange rates, and unsurprisingly was among the main topics of discussion this week.
Before elaborating on that subject, however, I’d like to report on the highly positive and supportive comments from Council delegates on the work carried out in LS1, and the smooth progress to date in re-commissioning the LHC. Council warmly thanked all members of personnel for their efforts in this respect over the last two years, and expressed gratitude for the help we have received from beyond our Member States.
I’d like to turn now to questions of budget. Since CERN is headquartered in Switzerland, our budget is drawn up in Swiss Francs, and CERN’s management is very sensitive to the impact that a sudden and substantial change in the value of the Swiss Franc can have on our Member States. As a consequence, we acted rapidly to bring forward measures to help our Member States through this difficult time. We took a package to Council designed primarily to address the immediate impact on Member States in 2015. Delegations positively acknowledged the fact that CERN is the only international organization in Geneva to have been proactive in this respect.
The package of possible measures for 2015 was drawn up in consultation with the staff, via the staff association, and I would like to thank you all for your support. The CERN staff’s readiness to give up 2.5 days of leave this year was also much appreciated by delegates.
Although broadly well received by Council, it was not possible to reach consensus on the package, and we therefore decided to withdraw it. As a consequence, we will work with delegations over the coming months to bring other suggestions to Council in June.
As a consequence, the Medium Term Plan and final budget for 2016 are for approval in September rather than June in order to give us more time to accommodate the implications of the High Luminosity LHC cost and schedule review that was completed only a few days ago.
Despite the lack of agreement this week, I remain optimistic that we will find a solution that is fair to all and that protects CERN’s excellence. It is clearly in all our interests that we do so, and that is a belief shared by Council and management.