Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Questions (137)

Maurice Quinlivan


137. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the estimated cost of associate membership and full membership of CERN; if membership has been considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27040/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

Based on indications received from CERN, the cost of Ireland’s full membership at current prices would be circa €13.6m annually. To become a full member, a country must go through an obligatory ‘associate membership in the pre-stage to membership’ phase for a minimum of two and maximum of five years. The initial contribution shall be at least 25% of full membership cost, which should increase to 100% by the first year of full membership. This would mean the cost of membership could go from €3.4m initially to €13.6m during the agreed pre-membership phase.

Membership costs are calculated based on the Net National Income (NNI) of member states. No one member state can contribute more than 20% of the overall CERN budget.

In addition to the annual full membership cost there is a ‘special contribution’ fee calculated as 1.5 times the cost of the full membership fee. Based on a cost of €13.6 m this would amount to €17m due on the day a state becomes a full member. There are however options for the payment of this special contribution. It may be paid over a defined period, possibly 10 years, and 20% of this contribution may be paid via ‘in-kind contributions’.

Therefore, the total initial full membership cost would be €30.6 million comprising the annual full membership fee and the special contribution fee. It is important to note that it is possible to negotiate on the timing of this payment.

An associate membership fee of minimum €1.3 million per annum is also possible, this is a 10% associate membership which is the lowest available at CERN. The benefits as well as the costs are restricted with this option.

My Department continues to keep the position in relation to CERN membership, and its cost, under review and maintains contact with officials in CERN in relation to Ireland's potential membership.

Innovation 2020, the national strategy for research and innovation, recognises that for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader, our research and innovation system must be open with strong international collaboration links. Membership of leading international research organisations is an important mechanism for facilitating this engagement.

For this reason, the Government gave a specific commitment in Innovation 2020 to initiate discussions with several international research organisations. Four organisations were identified – CERN, the European Southern Observatory, ELIXIR and LOFAR - and membership of three of these organisations has been completed.

Ireland continues its consideration of CERN membership.