On Thursday, 7th of Mai, the Austrian minister of science, Johannes Hahn, has announced that Austria will quit it’s CERN membership by the end of 2010. This decision still needs to be approved by the parliament . However, it seems that Austria will end a very successful story of 50 years of fundamental research.
This is again an example of how irresponsible Austrian politicians act in the field of science. Not only we have lousy scientific education at our schools that is constantly cut down more and more, not only we have universities that fail to meet the international level, not only our companies have troubles to do serious research, no, we also demonstrate the world officially that we are not interested in essential research projects. It’s too expensive, Mr. Hahn says. However, states like Hungary, Bulgaria or Slovakia seem to have enough money. Albania has asked to become a member . Do they have not Financial crises at the moment? Are those countries so much richer than Austria? Probably not. Probably they simply have more serious politicians.
What makes the thing even more outrageous is that the action was absolutely not agreed with the scientific community. The Austrian ETH professor Felicitas Pauss who is responsible for CERN’s external contacts said to the STANDARD that no politician from Vienna has even informed her before . She is it who would be responsible for two reasons for Austria’s troubles paying the membership fees.
It’s a shame to show such irresponsibility to the international scientific community. The image of Austria as a place for research has again been dramatically damaged. The LHC experiments hopefully won’t be in danger if the 20 million Euros from Austria stay off. But Austria’s scientists are in danger to be no longer involved in crucial experiments.
You can help trying to stop the downfall of Austria’s engagement in international high energy physics by signing the petition of the Austrian Physical Society. Thank you.
 DiePresse.com: “Österreich steigt beim CERN aus” (German) (2009-05-07)
 Der STANDARD: “Österreich steigt bei CERN aus” (Page 16) (German) (2009-05-08)