Estonia is planning on becoming a member of the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN), Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo said.
"For our entrepreneurs to have a better chance at taking part in CERN tenders, Estonia needs to become a member of the organization," Palo told BNS on Wednesday.
According to Palo, this would mean an expense of approximately €1.4 million per year. There is no guarantee that a member state would receive tenders as all member states can participate in all procurement tenders, unlike in the European Space Agency, where all member states are guaranteed tenders in a certain volume.
Estonia has been involved in the work of CERN since 1996. The country's scientists and engineers have participated in the center's experiments and studies, however there are also businesses which have participated as well, the minister noted.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in February asked 41 businesses if they would be interested in participating in CERN tenders, of whom 38 responded positively, primarily IT and electronics companies.
"Therefore we have made a budget request to the Ministry of Finance to join CERN," said Palo. "The proposal will also be discussed by the Research and Development Council next week."
Commenting on an invitation to visit CERN, she said that it would be reasonable to pay a visit in a year so as to properly prepare for it.
Palo will introduce the plan to join CERN at a Riigikogu briefing on Wednesday.
Over 20 years of cooperation
Estonia entered into a cooperation agreement with CERN in 1996, following which the agreement has been renewed every five years. Estonia's funding of the cooperation agreement has grown from €96,000 in 2004 to €319,558 since 2011. With the increase in funding, the volume and efficiency of cooperation has grown as well — today Estonia has eight cooperation projects with the center.
Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory is located on the Franco-Swiss border in a suburb of Geneva. It was one of Europe's first joint ventures and now boasts 20 member states. Romania is currently a candidate for membership while Israel and Serbia are associate members in the pre-membership stage. Observer states and organizations currently involved in CERN programs include the European Commission, India, Japan, Russia, UNESCO and the U.S.
Editor: Aili Vahtla