«Medium-Range Weather Prediction Austin Woods Medium-Range Weather Prediction The European Approach The story of the European Centre for Medium-Range ...»
– within the EU, or more widely throughout the EEA.
– for research: a very wide range of valuable information is available free of charge to the worldwide research community.
– to commercial entities within the Member State, in another Member State, or in another country.
– to other NMSs.
– to international organisations.
• If the forecast supplied by an NMS was based only on Centre data, or if it was partly based on the NMS’s own data, and if “partly”, by how much.
• Whether real-time forecasts and archive data should be treated differently.
• How prices or tariffs could properly be decided for atmospheric forecasts, wave forecasts, seasonal forecasts and EPS products.
• How a “level playing field” could be assured, so the NMSs in their commercial activity would not have an unfair advantage over private companies and vice versa.
• How the benefits of membership of the Centre could be maintained;
• How the revenue should be allocated.
Commercial issues 227
• How the differing individual Member State legislations could properly be taken into account.
• How the provisions of the ECMWF Convention, which is an internationally agreed legal document, could properly be taken into account.
• How relevant EU legislation could properly be considered.
As we saw, different Member States had different views and interests, sometimes radically different, on the matter. A wide range of the Centre’s most valuable forecasts are available free of charge to all on the ECMWF web site. Many more of its forecast products are sent free of charge to the NMSs of all countries of the world for use in their national forecast offices, transmitted on the same telecommunications links used for exchanging observational data. And all involved had a desire to ensure that ECMWF forecasts would be widely used to the benefit especially of the citizens of its Member States.
Meanwhile in the early 1990s and independent of the Centre, development of legislation by the European Commission led to a review of the traditional practices of the NMSs. Competition between NMSs, if perceived to be unfair, could threaten their very infrastructure, including maintenance of the vital observation networks. A “gentleman’s agreement”, as it was widely called, had been in existence for many years, under which NMSs operated commercially only within the borders of their own individual States. This could not continue within the European Union. The practices of the NMSs needed to be harmonized with European law relating to competition and the open market concept. The NMSs, being governmental organisations, had of course to ensure they did not infringe the competition rules defined by European legislation.
In 1995, the NMSs established an “Economic Interest Grouping” under Belgian law located in Brussels, called ECOMET. Its primary objectives
preserve the free and unrestricted exchange of meteorological information between the NMSs for their operational functions within the framework of WMO regulations and to ensure the widest availability of basic meteorological data and products for commercial applications.
This added yet another facet to be taken into account by the Council. A further objective of ECOMET was to recover part of the infrastructure expenses of the European NMSs by a contribution from all commercial users. The NMSs had developed in ECOMET a legal framework to establish equal competition conditions for the public as well as for the private sector. The data policy of the Centre had now to be considered in the light of the policies not only of EUMETSAT but also of ECOMET.
228 Chapter 18In November 1996 Council asked the Director to consult with the Director of EUMETSAT and the Chief Executive of ECOMET with a view to establishing a Working Group “to propose harmonized Rules relating to commercialization of meteorological products, to examine proposals for development of the Rules”. The “Joint Harmonization Group” (JHG) Chaired by Fritz Neuwirth of Austria considered the measures required to ensure that NMSs in their commercial activities treated ECMWF, EUMETSAT and their own NWP forecasts under equivalent conditions. It considered tariffs including discounts, maximum and minimum fees, costs of delivery and transmission and more. It reported to each session of Council until June 1998 when Council noted that it had accomplished its mandate, and dissolved it.
Again in the year 2000, it was queried whether the Council can decide if ECMWF products can be used commercially within the Member States. It asked its Policy Advisory Committee to consider the matter. In December 2000, the Centre decided to extend the range of products made available to NMSs throughout the world. Forecasts to seven days of wind, temperature, pressure, humidity, and the probabilities of heavy rain, snow and strong winds, would henceforth be made available without charge.
Products from the Centre’s work in seasonal prediction were becoming commercially valuable. The Centre decided in 2001 to make these products, forecasts to six months ahead of temperature, rain, snow, wind and more for the entire globe, available to private forecasting companies.
By now matters concerning commercial issues and distribution of ECMWF data were being considered by the Technical Advisory Committee, Finance Committee, Policy Advisory Committee, a Working Group of the Council, and Working Groups of some Committees, all of whom were drawing up opinions and recommendations for the Council to consider!
In 2001, Council set up a new Committee, the Advisory Committee for Data Policy (ACDP), which would be able to draw together all the strands that were being dealt with piece-meal. Since its establishment, the ACDP has been busy. It has extensively reviewed the Centre’s data policy, with a view to encouraging and developing use of ECMWF forecasts for both commercial and non-commercial applications. It has worked to ensure a level playing field within Europe for all commercial users, those in the private sector and those in the NMSs. It has reviewed the charging levels, rationalisation of costing, widening the range of products made available to the private sector, and maximum tariffs; these were reduced substantially. The Policy Advisory Committee also has continued to devote considerable attention to important policy issues concerning ECMWF data.
The Centre was established to combine the scientific and technical resources of its Member States to use the most powerful computers with the objective of improving to the quality of medium-range weather forecasts.
The staff were expected to do groundbreaking research. They would have to be of the highest calibre, and recruited from all over Europe.
In Chapter 2 we noted the July 1951 opinion of Prof Carl-Gustaf
the relations between meteorologists in the south and in the far north of Europe are not nearly as intimate as one might wish.
This opinion was undoubtedly widely shared. However, on the face of it, there are major problems in bringing together staff from countries with wide economic and cultural differences. For a start, meteorologists’ national salaries across the States supporting the Centre vary by a factor of ten or more. How could an equitable salary for the staff of the Centre be established?
The ground was of course well prepared. The level of salaries for professional staff of the United Nations is determined on the basis of the “Noblemaire Principle”, named after the Chairman of a Committee of the League of Nations. The Committee noted that “it would be most unfortunate if the scale of salaries were fixed at a rate which made it impossible to obtain first-class talent from those countries where the ordinary rate of remuneration is above the general average”. The Principle, formulated in 1921, states that: “the international civil service should be able to recruit staff from all its Member States, including the highest-paid”. By this Principle, the salaries of professional staff are set by reference to the highest-paying national civil service. For the United Nations the federal civil service of the USA was for a long time taken as the highest paid national 229
230 Chapter 19civil service. In 1995, as part of a periodic study, Germany was found to be better paid in the application of the Principle. And of course a large proportion of any international staff “incurs additional expenses and makes certain sacrifices by living away from their own countries”.
The Headquarters Agreement of 1977 foresaw accommodation for 145 permanent staff and up to 10 visiting scientists. For an organisation of this size, with staff coming from about 20 States, it would be an administrative nightmare to try to determine salaries, allowances and pensions internally.
Within Europe however, as early as 1956, a team of independent experts was employed by four independent international organisations based in France to “examine all aspects of the problems relating to the emoluments of the staff of OEED (now OECD), NATO, WEU and the Council of Europe”.
These four organisations had at the time a total staff of 1,900. The resulting “Serre’s Report”, published in 1958, was a comprehensive review of the structures and staffing of the organisations, and had a proposal for future cooperation. A “Coordinating Committee of Government Budget Experts”, soon known as the CCG, made up of representatives from the Member States and the Secretariats of the four organisations, met for the first time in June 1958. The views of the Secretaries-General or equivalent of the organisations on remuneration, and later on pensions, could be coordinated with those of the Member States. In 1960 a permanent Committee with a chairman replaced the often-changing group of representatives. In 1963 the Heads of Administration established their own Committee (CHA). In 1965, ELDO and ESRA, who together became the European Space Agency (ESA), joined the Coordinated Organisations.
Before recruitment of ECMWF staff could begin, a decision clearly had to be made on the salaries to be offered. At the first meeting of the Centre’s Finance Sub-Committee in Brussels in July 1974 it was “decided that the salaries of ECMWF should follow the principles, but not the actual scales, of the Coordinated Organisations. The aim must be to devise scales, which will attract recruits from all the Member States and yet be acceptable to the host country. It is proposed that salaries should be fixed at 92% of the Coordinated Organisations salaries for UK based staff.” “UK salaries would be in line with the other Member States if salaries for staff in the UK were reduced to 92% of their present levels... There are however possible drawbacks... the most serious being that at A6 level they would be lower than at least two national services, Germany and Denmark.” Based on the 92% rate, the proposed monthly salary for the ECMWF Deputy Director was £520–£720, for a senior scientist £390–£530 and for a secretary £180–£240.
The Staff 231 At its first session in November 1975 Council, with Germany and the UK voting against, “adopted the scale of staff salaries and allowances applicable for the staff of the Coordinated Organisations serving in the United Kingdom” — the full scale, not 92%. This decision opened the door to attracting the best European scientists to the Centre. The level of remuneration offered by the Centre helped partially to compensate for the upheaval to family life caused by a move to a country with a different currency, housing market, language and system of education, and being away from friends and relatives. Still, and in common with most other international organisations, the percentage of staff from the host country, in this case the UK, was in general consistently higher than from the other States, partially because most of the supporting staff — those not scientists or computer experts — were locally recruited.
Council also authorised the Director to apply for membership of the coordinated system. In May 1976, the Council adopted the Pension Scheme Rules of the Coordinated Organisations. Two years later, the Director had to inform Council that “the Centre was not yet a full member of the Coordinated Organisations”. The Centre was, however, granted observer status and thus had the opportunity to contribute indirectly to the work of coordination. Throughout the time as an observer, the Centre had been following the recommendations of the CCG in respect of salaries, allowances and the Pension Scheme.
The problem with the Centre joining the coordinated system was in part political. NATO is one of the Coordinated Organisations. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a Member State of the Centre, thus giving it access to the ECMWF High Performance Computing Facility, including the CRAY supercomputer. NATO was unwilling to support the ECMWF application. The UK delegation informed Council that its delegation to NATO had been asked to urge that the Centre’s application for membership of the Coordinated Organisations be placed on the NATO Council agenda. Others also encouraged their NATO representatives to help the Centre’s application.
It was not until late 1987, after a meeting of the Secretaries-General of the organisations, that the then Secretary-General of NATO Lord Carrington informed the ECMWF Director Lennart Bengtsson that NATO had agreed to the Centre becoming a full member of the Coordinated Organisations with effect from 1 January 1988. This was some 13 years after it first applied for membership. From then on the Centre participated actively in discussions of the Coordinating Committee of Government Budget Experts (CCG), the Committee of Representatives of the Secretaries-General (CRSG), and the Committee of Representatives of Personnel (CRP).