Standpoint Regarding the Situation Created Around the Romanian Pillar ELI-NP Infrastructure

2020-05-21

The recent events surrounding the Research Infrastructure of pan-European interest the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project cause us to note with concern the pressures, media, and political, on the Romanian pillar of this infrastructure - ELI-Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP). These seriously undermine the values and goals promoted by its implementation in Romania and may call into question the efforts made by all those involved to create and consolidate a Common Research Area in Europe.

The ELI project was the proposal of France, at the initiative of Professor Gerard Mourou, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2018, for the first Roadmap of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) since 2006. Until 2009, with the support of the European Commission, research organizations from 13 countries - France, Germany, Italy, UK, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Poland - have partnered to prepare for implementation and provide solutions of the scientific, technological, financial and legal problems that a project of such novelty and scope could encounter.

Based on the solutions and recommendations of this project, in December 2009, three new EU member states - the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania - within the Competitiveness Council undertook to host and build, from structural funds, the three pillars of the ELI research infrastructure.

Since 2010, ELI-NP, together with the other two pillars from Hungary (ELI-ALPS) and the Czech Republic (ELI-Beamlines), together with representative research organizations from Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, have formed a partnership with legal personality, ELI-Delivery Consortium (ELI-DC), to operate and use the ELI infrastructure, after the completion of the implementation of the three projects, as ELI-ERIC. ERIC is, under the European law, the European Research Infrastructure Consortium framework with legal personality, and as shareholders the EU Member States or associated, which undertakes to fund the access of the scientific community to the use of the infrastructure. The main benefits of this form of organization are the costs of operating the infrastructure with the VAT exemption and, the adoption of its own procurement rules and procedures for the goods and services necessary for the operation of the infrastructure.

ELI-NP, whose construction in Magurele began in 2012, after obtaining approvals from national authorities and the European Commission, the host and responsible institution being the National Research and Development Institute for Nuclear Physics and Engineering - Horia Hulubei (IFIN-HH), represents an investment of Romania from structural funds and from the state budget funds, amounting to 310 million Euros.

The ELI-NP Center built in Magurele with remarkable efforts and dedication by the team led by our colleague, Acad. Nicolae-Victor Zamfir is for all of us, a proof of Romania's capacity to carry out projects of excellence and to be a respected partner in scientific research at the frontier of knowledge. Through ELI-NP it is demonstrated, once again, that Romanian research can harness its exceptional potential and training and to be an inspirational model for the young generation and society.

Following closely with great satisfaction, the success and achievements of ELI-NP, highly appreciated by important members in the field of world scientific research, the Presidium of the Romanian Academy is very concerned to the concerted actions to discredit Romania, the ELI-NP Center and the institution that accomplished the building of this Center. We strongly disapprove of such manifestations, whose virulence and lack of ethics can only place their authors in the sphere of obscure interests, which bring serious harm to Romania, and which are outside the norms and values unanimously accepted in the scientific community.

It is our conviction that our support will carry the echo among society and at the level of the Romanian authorities and that such action will no longer find their place in Europe.

The Presidium of the Romanian Academy