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‘Convincing European countries of our candidacy’

Around 2026, the European countries behind the Einstein Telescope will choose the location where this groundbreaking measuring instrument will be built. Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands have been organising meetings for some time to inform and enthuse representatives of other European partner countries regarding the candidacy of the Meuse-Rhine Euregio – the border region of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.

To better highlight the strengths of this border region for the other partner countries of the Einstein Telescope, a special familiarisation programme has been running since spring 2024. This enables countries from the Board of Governmental Representatives (BGR) of the European research project to become familiar with the Einstein Telescope plans in the border region, known in Europe as the Meuse-Rhine Euregio (EMR).

In addition to Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, members of the Board of Governmental Representatives currently include Italy, Spain, France, Poland, Austria, and the United Kingdom. That group of participants is expected to grow in the coming period.

As part of the familiarisation programme, visits were organised this spring for ambassadors, technical attachés, and senior officials from France, Switzerland, and the UK. The Einstein Telescope also went to the Hannover Messe, Europe’s leading technology fair.

Bezoek van de Zwitserse ambassadeur Corinne Cicéron Bühler aan de Einstein Telescope-projecten in de Euregio Maas-Rijn
Visit of the Swiss ambassador Corinne Cicéron Bühler to the Einstein Telescope projects in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine


Laurent Ghys of the Belgian Science Policy Office Belspo explains how the introductory talks boost the chances of the border region. “Even though we’re still formally at the exploratory stage, it’s important that we present ourselves to partner countries now,” Ghys argues.

Partner countries, for example, are curious about the timeline of the Meuse-Rhine Euregio and how the feasibility studies are progressing. These cover a wide range of topics, from geological research to find the most stable subsurface, to technical R&D and identifying qualified companies that can provide the high-end technology for the Einstein Telescope.

Cross-border collaboration is also important, according to Ghys: “Since we’re putting ourselves forward here with three countries as a location, we need to work out at an early stage how we want to collaborate. For politicians, this governance of the future organisation is very important: what does everyone expect from it?

Bezoek Franse delegatie aan onderzoeksfaciliteit CSL Luik op 2 februari 2024. Foto: Lodewijk Smoor
Visit of French delegation to the research facilities at CSL Liège on 2 February 2024. Photo: Lodewijk Smoor

Trump cards

Around 2026, the participating countries on the Board of Governmental Representatives will decide where the Einstein Telescope is to be located. By involving them now, Ghys and his colleagues hope to give them the information they need to make their choice.

Ghys says: “We get very practical questions: when will the feasibility studies be available; when should the site be chosen; when will construction start? They also want to know how we organise ourselves within the EMR and what opportunities there are to collaborate with our scientists and companies.”

There’s a lot of enthusiasm during the familiarisation meetings, Ghys notes. This isn’t surprising, as the Einstein Telescope is a key project on the European ESFRI Roadmap for key scientific infrastructure in Europe. 

Op de Hannover Messe presenteerden Belgische en Nederlandse stands het verhaal van de Einstein Telescope
Belgian and Dutch stands presented the story of the Einstein Telescope at the Hannover Messe


Everyone is looking forward to the Einstein Telescope. Whether it ends up in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine will depend on the quality of the candidature put forward by the EMR, Ghys believes. Making the other participating countries in the Einstein Telescope part of the preparations in the EMR at this early stage increases the chances still further.

“We already hold strong cards. We’re highly international by nature, in an easily accessible region with uniquely suitable soil, strong knowledge institutions, training, and businesses. Those conditions are good, but the Einstein Telescope will come here only if Europe gets behind our candidacy. We’re working hard on that.”

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