At the end of May 2013 the CERN Council approved an updated European strategy for particle physics during a special meeting in Brussels.
Nikhef’s research is known as Big Science. Hardly surprisingly in view of the long time horizons, enormous investments and huge international partnerships. Success requires international harmonisation. In 2005, the CERN Council therefore took the initiative to draw up a European strategy for particle physics, which was ratified in 2006. Since the original European strategy from 2006, considerable progress has been made in particle physics. CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has yielded crucial results in recent years, such as the discovery of the Higgs particle, a milestone in which researchers from FOM institute Nikhef were closely involved. Particle physics is developing further on a global scale. Immediately after the discovery of the Higgs particle in 2012 the process of updating the strategy was started. Firstly, all particle and astroparticle physicists in Europe were asked to give their opinion about the document via an Internet forum. Next an open symposium was organised in October 2012 in Kraków (Poland) in which all different aspects of the research were reviewed and attention was also paid to developments outside of Europe, in other words in America and Asia. Finally a select group edited all of the material supplied and made this available for the actual strategy meeting.
This meeting took place from 21 to 25 January 2013 in Erice, a mountain top conference location on Sicily. In the summer it is a tourist destination but in the winter it is a cold, misty, comfortless and deserted place. The Netherlands is one of the founding members of CERN and the scientific representative on the CERN Council, professor Sijbrand de Jong, represented the Netherlands at this meeting together with Nikhef director professor Frank Linde. Under the chairmanship of professor Tatsuya Nakada (EPFL Lausanne and member of Nikhef's Scientific Advisory Committee) considerable differences of opinion, especially about the future accelerator projects at the CERN complex near Geneva and possible European contributions to accelerator projects outside of Europe, such as the International Linear Collider (ILC), were worded such that on the last day everybody could agree to the draft text. Nikhef's strategic plan the next few years is superbly aligned with this.
Next the three-page long strategy was placed in a societal context, in other words other areas were identified for which CERN-related research is important: such as ICT, energy and medical instrumentation. The details and the strategy can be found in the brochure entitled Accelerating science and innovation – Societal benefits of European research in particle physics.
On 30 May 2013, the updated strategy was unanimously approved by a special meeting of the CERN Council in Brussels where representatives from the European Commission were also present.
The strategy underlines the success of a European model of international research as used by CERN. It also emphasises the plan to continue using this model, also in the form of European involvement in worldwide particle physics projects in regions outside of Europe. Pioneering collaboration in scientific research yields many advantages in the areas of knowledge, innovation, education and training.