The availability of synchrotron radiation has a strong impact to the developments of many scientific disciplines. Multidisciplinary research activities in structural biology, material sciences or earth and environmental sciences, for example, are strongly dependent on the use of this radiation. Due to continuous growth in user demand for synchrotron radiation of best quality the number of large facilities in Europe is increasing. Besides the world leading facility ESRF, the national sources like SOLEIL, DIAMOND and PETRA III have been finished recently and further sources, like ALBA, MAX IV and Polish national source are under construction or in the planning phase. All together they will give the users the chance to find the suitable facility and optimal beamline for the realization of a particular experiment.
However, access to these facilities does strongly depend on funding issues. Except ESRF, access of non-national users to the nationally financed sources has been usually supported by European funds, by means of the so-called Integrated Infrastructure Initiative (I3) provided via FP6 and FP7 program calls. Unfortunately, the actual budget provided by the EU for these activities has been essentially reduced. Moreover, there is discussion for further reduction and releasing the funding responsibility completely to national programs. Distribution of the EU money provided by I3 and discussion on new activities to raise the EU funding is guided by the FP7 ELISA – European Light Source Activities- steered by a council representing all the European synchrotron radiation facilities. In order to better respond to the user needs the ELISA council increased the number of independent user representatives from 3 (FP6 project) to 5 with a plenary vote on June 8, 2009.
These first user representatives ELISA have agreed to form an ad-hoc committee to look for a possible realization of a European Synchrotron User Organization (ESUO), a council of users working with synchrotron radiation. This initiative is guided by the conviction that ACCESS to European Synchrotron Radiation Facilities must be a genuine European mission. It cannot only depend on the national interest but must support trans-national activities to stimulate science in Europe. EU funding for European projects must also support access to these large facilities by European users. For several countries these access programs are the only way to realize synchrotron radiation experiments.
At present we propose to form the European Synchrotron User Organization (ESUO) based on “One Country – one vote” principle as it is common in many European organizations. This body is planned to be completed by representatives of each User Organization hosted at the various European synchrotron radiation facilities. The aim of the ESUO is to coordinate the synchrotron radiation user activities within the Europe to guarantee the realization of and the access to the best possible beamline portfolio in Europe. As an umbrella organization it would support the activities and formation of national and facility-related user organizations and stimulate discussions on unified beamline and beamtime application standards. Furthermore, ESUO carries great potential to be an influential organization in lobbying the synchrotron radiation activities at the European level and help the local user organization for the same efforts at the national level.
Ad-doc committee for formation of European User Organization:
Ullrich Pietsch (University of Siegen, Germany), spokesperson for the ESUO initiative
Maria Armenia Carrondo (Instituto de tecnologia Química e Biólogica, Portugal)
Keijo Hämäläinen (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Krystyna Lawniczak- Jablonska (Polish Academy of Science, Poland)