A word from the DG: Progress at the Council meeting

The CERN Council Session in October brought progress in many areas and I would like to draw your attention to two important subjects.

First of all, I am delighted to be able to announce to you that the Council approved the whole of the five-yearly review of employment conditions package. As I had informed you in a previous editorial (see Bulletin No. 7-28/2006), in June 2006 nine out of 11 components of the Management's proposal had already been accepted. These proposals will bring considerable progress in the Organization's family policy, in particular through enhanced support for families with young children. The enhancement of the merit advancement component will also make it possible to implement a more dynamic career management policy. However, two issues were still pending: the reform of the non-resident allowance and possible compensation to the personnel in the event of an increase in contributions to the Health Insurance Scheme. The Management submitted two new proposals on these issues which were approved by the Council.

With the assistance of representatives of the Host States, the Management submitted a proposal for an international allowance to replace the non-resident allowance. The purpose of the new allowance is to provide limited-duration financial support to new recruits during the period when they and their families are integrating into the local area. The amount of the international allowance, which concerns career paths C to G, will decline over a period of six years once an indefinite contract is obtained. The savings generated by the temporary nature of the allowance will be used to increase the merit advancement budget.

On the health insurance question, the Management proposed to suspend the increase of the personnel's and the Organisation's contributions pending an overall financial analysis which will be conducted in 2007. As previously announced, the annual deductible will increase from 100 to 200 CHF in January 2007, with an equivalent financial input by the Organization.

The second subject concerns the updating of the Laboratory's Medium-Term Plan (2007-2010). I invited the Council to examine proposals aimed at granting additional resources to the Laboratory during this special period of reimbursement of the debts contracted to complete the LHC. These proposals were drawn up to take account of the conclusions of the special Council Session held in Lisbon in July this year (see Bulletin No.31/2006). At that Session, the Council approved a strategy document which specifically attributes absolute priority to completing the LHC and its experiments in order to reach nominal performances and optimum operation. The document also recommends a programme of R&D for the purposes of increasing the LHC's luminosity and for future accelerators, including CLIC.

Unfortunately, the reduction in staff numbers and financial resources decided in 1996 in the framework of LHC approval is compatible neither with optimum exploitation of the LHC nor with the implementation of a substantial R&D programme as recommended by the Council in Lisbon. The resources available until 2010 are sufficient only for «routine» operation of the LHC and of the other infrastructure. Moreover, the injector complex requires thorough renovation which has not been feasible during LHC construction.

An analysis of the personnel and materials resources required to implement the proposed programme has led me to request additional resources amounting to 240 MCHF for the period 2008-2010. This amount would cover 190 MCHF in materials and 50 MCHF in personnel, allowing the staff complement to be maintained at 2250 full-time equivalents (FTEs) until 2010 (compared to 2600 today). In 1996 the Council had decided to reduce the staff complement to 2000 FTEs by 2010.

These additional resources are needed to allow our Laboratory to continue its success story. I have no doubt that CERN will be listened to by its Member States, which have taken a substantial and courageous step forward by defining a European strategy for the future of high-energy physics.

Robert Aymar

The Director-General's presentation to the Council on the updating of the medium-term plan is available on the Intranet welcome page.