European XFEL established under international law
With their signatures, representatives from ten nations today lay the foundations for the European XFEL under international law.
It was a solemn moment when Hamburg’s First Mayor Ole von Beust stepped up to the speaker’s desk in the large banquet room of Hamburg’s town hall at 10:15 a.m., and greeted the ministers, state secretaries and other government representatives as well as about 100 guests of honour from 12 countries: “With its high-intensity ultrashort laser flashes, the European XFEL is a highlight in the true sense of the word. The new facility not only connects Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, but also scientists from 14 nations. This impressive international cooperation proves that inquisitiveness and scientific curiosity create bonds across all borders.”
The European aspect took centre stage in the welcome address of the Russian Minister of Education and Science, Andrey Fursenko, and the Hungarian Minister for National Development and Economy, István Varga. It is of special importance for Hungary, that domestic research and technological progress will be embedded in Europe. "For us, Europe represents the best level and therefore we are glad to be among the first ones to sign the European XFEL agreement", Varga declared.
Today, on 30 November 2009, representatives from Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and Switzerland signed the “Convention concerning the Construction and Operation of a European X-ray Free-Electron Laser Facility” – as the official title of the English version of the convention reads. For internal reasons, France and Spain will sign the Convention a bit later. China and the United Kingdom plan to join within the next six months.
Six language versions each of the Convention and the Final Act now carry the signatures of 11 government representatives, among them two from the Federal Republic of Germany. The two documents lay the foundations of the European XFEL project, define the financial contributions of the currently 14 partner countries, and confer the responsibility for the construction and operation of the X-ray free-electron laser facility on the non-profit company European XFEL GmbH.
The costs for the construction and commissioning of the new X-ray laser facility amount to 1082 million Euro (price levels of 2005). As the host country, Germany (the federal government, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein) covers 54 percent of these costs. Russia bears 23 percent and the other international partners between 1 and 3.5 percent each. Concerning the financing of the German share, an agreement still had to be signed between the federal government and the federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, which was done during the same ceremony in the tower room of the town hall.
The governments of the international partner states designate the shareholders of the company European XFEL GmbH. These are research institutions or organizations of the corresponding country or the governments themselves. With the consent of all the partners, the GmbH (a limited liability company under German law) was founded in Hamburg a few weeks ago already, initially with DESY as the only shareholder. This enabled other shareholders of the new research organization to join the limited liability company in the small room of the town hall right after the signing ceremony.
The signatories of the Convention and of the associated Final Act were for
- Denmark: Hans Müller Pedersen (Deputy Director General of the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation)
- Germany: Prof. Dr. Frieder Meyer-Krahmer (State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Education and Research) and Dr. Peter Ammon (State Secretary, Federal Foreign Office)
- Greece: Dr. Christos Vasilakos (Representative of the 'General Secretariat for Research and Technology' in the Permanent Delegation of Greece at the European Union)
- Hungary: István Varga (Minister for National Development and Economy)
- Italy: Giuseppe Pizza (State Secretary, Ministry for Education, Universities and Research)
- Poland: Prof. Jerzy Szwed (Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Science and Higher Education)
- Russia: Andrey Fursenko (Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation)
- Slovak Republic: Prof. Mikuláš Šupín (Director General, Division of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic)
- Sweden: Peter Honeth (State Secretary, Ministry of Education and Research)
- Switzerland: Mauro Dell'Ambrogio (State Secretary, State Secretariat for Education and Research)
The signatories of the agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the two Federal States were for
- Germany: Prof. Dr. Frieder Meyer-Krahmer (State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Education and Research)
- Hamburg: Ole von Beust (First Mayor) and Dr. Herlind Gundelach (Senator of Science and Research)
- Schleswig-Holstein: Peter Harry Carstensen (Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein)
The five institutions which joined the European XFEL GmbH on 30 November 2009, and that for
- Denmark: the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI)
- Russia: the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO)
- Slovakia: the Slovak Republic (represented by the Ministry of Education)
- Sweden: the Swedish Research Council
- Switzerland: the Swiss Confederation (represented by the State Secretariat for Education and Research)
Shareholders from the remaining countries are expected to join the company within the next months.