Switzerland must promote CERN’s long-term development potential, particularly in terms of spatial planning, which has prompted the Federal Council to initiate work on a federal sectoral plan focusing on CERN projects. According to the current state of planning, the Federal Council intends to submit a dispatch to Parliament creating the necessary legal basis by the end of 2022.
Situated at the French–Swiss border, CERN contributes to Switzerland’s international reputation and delivers an important scientific, industrial and economic impact. CERN’s infrastructure needs evolve as technology advances and new scientific discoveries are made, and several projects currently under consideration would have an impact on Swiss territory. In order to secure the laboratory’s long-term future, the CERN Council, which brings together the representatives of the member states, also launched a feasibility study in 2020 for a new large particle collider, the Future Circular Collider (FCC). The FCC would be built in a 100km-long, circular tunnel under Lake Geneva and the French–Swiss border.
The Federal Council will draw up a federal sectoral plan in order to clarify and facilitate the administrative procedures for spatial planning and to improve planning security for all CERN projects, including the FCC in the event of its implementation. The sectoral plan, which also responds to a request from the Republic and Canton of Geneva, will provide a framework for balancing the objectives of research policy, host-state policy and spatial planning policy.
A dedicated legal basis is required in order to develop a federal sectoral plan for CERN projects.
CERN and Switzerland
CERN’s mission is to improve our understanding of the composition and functioning of the universe. One important way CERN fulfils this mission is by allowing researchers around the world to use the infrastructure that it builds and operates. CERN was established in 1954 as a Geneva-based intergovernmental organisation with 23 member states, including Switzerland. There are also ten associate member states, most of which are European countries.
In addition to its considerable contributions to science and innovation, CERN has also brought significant economic benefits to Switzerland, and the Geneva region in particular. The organisation has played a central role in several major technological breakthroughs thatare essential to our lives today, such as the World Wide Web and proton therapy for cancer, known as hadron therapy. The laboratory also trains many engineers and scientists, helping them to become the qualified experts required in the academic and industrial sectors. CERN brings together people of 110 nationalities, thereby contributing to Swiss researchers’ European and global networking and increasing the reach of Switzerland and international Geneva. This is mirrored in the federal government’s 2020–2023 Foreign Policy Strategy, 2021–2024 Digital Foreign Policy and 2021–2024 Strategy for Communication Abroad.