Defining priorities

Last week the European Strategy Group met in Erice (Italy) to distil reams of input and months of discussion into a concise document outlining an updated Strategy for European Particle Physics. The result is a document that will be presented to the Council for feedback next month, before final approval by the Council at a special meeting in Brussels on 29 May. The Strategy process was important when it began in 2005, and is even more so today with important discoveries behind us and a changing global landscape for particle physics ahead.


The draft update, it’s fair to say, contains few surprises, but there are nevertheless some weighty issues for the Council to deliberate. The top priority is, of course, the full exploitation of the LHC, but the Strategy goes further, stating unambiguously that Europe’s top priority should be the high-luminosity upgrade of the machine. Other high-priority items are accelerator R&D to ensure the long-term global future of the field. On the subject of the much-publicised initiative for Japan to host an International Linear Collider, the Strategy Group has taken a pragmatic approach, looking forward to a proposal from Japan as to how other regions might take part. Other high priorities are for work to develop a substantial neutrino programme in Europe and for Europe to participate in major neutrino projects in the US and Japan.

Non-scientific issues in the Strategy are equally as important as the science. CERN’s organisational model, for example, was hailed a good one for international science, and the draft Strategy’s first recommendation is that it be retained. The strategy also unambiguously proposes CERN as Europe’s vehicle for participation in global particle physics projects, wherever they may be. I am also pleased to see the Strategy Group has given engagement with society the importance I believe it deserves, highlighting the role of communication, education and technology transfer.

These extracts represent just my personal view of the draft, which contains recommendations on many other scientific and organisational issues. I’m aware that different aspects will carry more or less weight with each of us, but I think we can all agree that the Strategy Group has done a great job, providing much for Council delegates  to discuss when they next meet at CERN in March.

Rolf Heuer