In August 2003, the former German Minister for Education and Research, Mrs. Edelgard Bulmahn, invited interested countries to explore ways and means to realize a European XFEL Laboratory in Hamburg. In accordance with the consensus reached during the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) in November 2003 in Trieste, the German Government invited all interested parties for a constituent meeting of an International Steering Committee (ISC) in February 2004.

Ever since, the ISC has been meeting regularly to discuss matters related to its general task to promote and shape the process of setting up a consortium for the construction and operation of the proposed European XFEL Laboratory.

In order to achieve this goal, the ISC worked out a “Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Preparatory Phase of the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser Facility”, which was signed by representatives of the governments of 13 countries. The duration of the MoU was later extended until the registration of the European XFEL Company, which finally took place end of 2009.

On June 5th, 2007, the German Minister for Education and Research, Annette Schavan, the French Minister of Higher Education and Science, Valérie Pécresse, the Russian Minister of Education and Science, Professor Dr. A. A. Fursenko and representatives of seven other governments officially launched the XFEL project; subsequently the first call for tender was published.

This preperatory phase ended successfully with the signature of the intergovenmental "Convention concerning the Construction and Operation of a European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility" on November 30th, 2009.

Composition of the ISC

The ISC was composed of high level governmental or funding agency representatives from those countries intending to contribute to the funding of the construction and operation of the XFEL project.

The ISC was initially chaired by Dr. Hermann Schunck (formerly BMBF). Since July 2007, Professor John Wood (formerly chief executive CCLRC, later Principal of the Faculty of Engineering at the Imperial College London; ESFRI chair) became the new chairperson of the ISC.

Modus operandi

In order to properly address scientific and technical issues, as well as administrative and funding questions, two working groups were formed:

  • the Working Group on Scientific and Technical Issues (STI), chairperson Francesco Sette (ESRF), and
  • the Working Group on Administrative and Funding Issues (AFI), chairperson Hermann-Friedrich Wagner (formerly BMBF).

Both groups reported on a regular basis to the ISC.

More internal information on the Steering Committee, the Working Groups, and futher sub-groups, as well as on historical legal frame documents may be obtained via the links below.