There is a significant margin for Greek industrial and other firms to increase their participation as suppliers to CERN and to take part in its programmes, the new President of the CERN Council Dr. Ursula Bassler said, in a statement on Monday.
Dr. Bassler was in Athens to attend an event held at the Demokritos research centre, organised by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT), with the participation of scientists from Greece’s largest research centres, universities and companies involved in relevant fields.
She briefed those attending on the potential benefits of Greece’s participation in CERN, the largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory in the world. According to statements made by Bassler, Greece’s Alternate Research and Innovation Minister Kostas Fotakis and the head of the GSRT Patricia Kyprianidou, talks are currently underway to arrive at a more favourable settlement for Greece’s debts to CERN from previous years.
“Greece has been a historic and founding member of CERN, therefore there is a long-term relationship that I think is very good. Many Greek scientists and technicials work at CERN, and many researchers come to us from Greek laboratories. There could, however, be an improvement in the matter of our relations on an industrial level, which is something that we must continue to work on,” Bassler said.
She noted that Greek companies must better exploit CERN and participate in its programmes, thus increasing the transfer of technology through these companies, both established and startups.
“There are margins for improving the participation of Greek industrial and other businesses in the supplies and programmes of CERN. Greece is very strong in sending young people to CERN – for example, students – something that can help in further improving our bilateral relations,” she added.
She admitted that there had been some problems with the payment of Greece’s annual dues in previous years, due to the economic crisis, but noted that “we have drawn up a plan for dealing with these difficulties and this plan is underway. We are in a discussion with the ministry involved to make some changes but I do not see a serious problem.” Greece was not currently in arrears, she added.
Greece was one of the 12 founding countries that set up CERN in 1954, with 45 Greeks currently among its permanent staff, in addition to 59 research associates, 13 PhD students, 28 students in technical disciplines and eight in administration. There are also 240 Greek scientists that use CERN, of which 150 are based in Greece, which contributes 1.2 pct of CERN’s budget (1.15 billion Swiss francs).
Fotakis confirmed that Greece was up to date with current payments and had negotiated a settlement to clear arrears accumulated by previous governments, with further improvements to ease repayment currently being discussed.
“At this time there is absolutely no problem with CERN. It is also positive that there has been an increase in the so-called returns from CERN, both in terms of training and education and on the level of industrial returns,” he said, noting that the participation of Greek companies in CERN proclamations had increased from two million euros in 2016 to three million at present. Greece also did well in terms of the number of students studying at CERN (10 pct) relative to its contribution, he added.