CERN: the new model for European co-operation

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Pierre Auger, Eduardo Amaldi, and Lew Kowarski 

In response to the emerging situation in the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, two high-energy physicists, Pierre Auger from France and Edoardo Amaldi from Italy, proposed a joint organization for space research.

Both men were founding members of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), the organization and laboratory that had been established in Geneva by twelve Western European countries in 1954. CERN was established to pool resources to meet the high costs of conducting nuclear and higher-energy physics research. It was run by leading physicists from across Europe, and to many it formed a model of peaceful international co-operation in science, as well as a means of keeping European nations competitive in the world of research.

Using CERN both as a model and a network of interested people, Auger and Amaldi quickly garnered support from a number of leading scientists and set up the "Commission préparatoire européenne de recherches spatiales" (COPERS) of representatives from ten European governments, which met for the first time in 1960 to discuss European collaboration in space.

How to cite this page


Alexander Badenoch, 'CERN: the new model for European co-operation', Inventing Europe,


  1. Trischler, Helmuth and Kohlrausch,Martin. The Politics of Expertise in Europe: Creating, Organizing, Sharing Knowledge. Basingstoke: Palgrave, forthcoming.

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ELDO: the European space flop

After Sputnik woke up the world to spaceflight in 1957, several Western European countries joined the US in the race for space. A number of international collaborations were formed, including the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) that was set up in 1962. However, their lofty goals did not achieve such high-flying results.

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