To deliver our mission to our Member and Co-operating States, our staff need to work within the right infrastructure. From a welcoming and healthy restaurant to an efficient Human Resources service, supporting ECMWF is about ensuring that staff at individual level work within the best possible environment and that the organisation as a whole is run efficiently and strategically.
2018 was marked by a deliberate and strong focus on the future. With the decision to move ECMWF’s data centre to Italy, many ECMWF policies and regulations have needed updating to reflect our new situation as a multi-site organisation. Though this activity was led by necessity, it proved a good opportunity to take a more holistic approach and revisit policies to take account of the Centre’s growth, in terms of both staff numbers and range of activities.
One of the major exercises we undertook in 2018 was to implement a new policy for the Protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PIIP), and this was done to align ECMWF regulations with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applicable in the European Union.
Brexit, and more specifically the uncertainty associated with the impact of the UK planning to withdraw from the European Union, was also a key component of 2018. From handling currency fluctuations to ensuring that ECMWF privileges and immunities would be preserved, reassuring potential candidates as much as existing staff , and trying to envisage the impact on our operational functioning, preparing for Brexit has been a challenging exercise.
Accommodation was at the heart of 2018 with the decision of the ECMWF Council in June to relocate all our Copernicus staff from rented offices at the University of Reading to the Centre’s headquarters in Shinfield Park. In parallel, the preparatory work for the transfer of the data centre to Bologna, Italy, kept many teams extremely busy, especially in the field of procurement, where many new processes had to be implemented and managed.
Regarding the Centre’s headquarters, discussions and negotiations continued with the UK Government following its offer to relocate ECMWF offices and conference facilities to new premises on the University of Reading campus. We appointed experts who worked with us to translate our requirements into an implementation document which will help the project architects to develop detailed plans.
Recognising the specific nature of International Organisations and the importance of their role and presence in the UK, our in-house legal team took the initiative to host the 2018 annual meeting of All London-Based INternational Organisations (ALBINO) on our premises.
ALBINO is a network of International Organisations in the UK, through which lawyers can share experiences and discuss solutions for issues they have in common.
Nearly 30 participants from 14 International Organisations took part, among others the Commonwealth, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). They were joined by representatives from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
A variety of issues were addressed, but the key topic on the agenda was Brexit. In particular, the legal effects and non- effects of Brexit in general, application of visa exemptions after Brexit, settled status for EU staff , future treatment of VAT, data protection and other practicalities related to general Brexit preparedness were discussed.
The meeting helped to revitalise the co-ordination across International Organisations based in the UK who share similar concerns about the consequences of Brexit. Our legal team also took the initiative to motivate other organisations to volunteer hosting ALBINO. As a result, IMO stepped forward and announced that it would host the next ALBINO meeting some time in 2019 in London. The ECMWF legal team will support the organisation of future meetings if need be.
The FCO recognised the importance of keeping International Organisations informed and pledged to keep them abreast of any development related to Brexit implementation.
As an International Organisation, ECMWF is proud of its multicultural environment with 364 members of staff from 31 different countries. Six graduate trainees from the national meteorological services of Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Norway and Serbia worked on areas including new flash flood products; real-time hydrological data acquisition; extracting ecCharts information; polar lows in the Norwegian and Barents Seas; investigating near-surface weather forecasts; and a new forecast evaluation tool for OpenIFS users.
Three visiting scientists from China and three from Japan focused on Earth system predictability, model uncertainty, coupled assimilation and physical processes.
The Centre’s financial position remained strong, with the sale of ECMWF data and products continuing to increase and generating a surplus of over £1 million in 2018. We continued to work on a new charging and delivery model, a priority in the context of changing technology and political views on open data. Investing in cloud services will play a key role in supporting our future business model for the development of forecasts and the distribution of our data and products.
European investment in ECMWF
The 34 Member and Co-operating States of ECMWF are the principal source of finance for the Centre, with contributions totalling £43.5 million out of the Centre’s £108.3 million funding. External organisations support both core research and the complementary goals of the Centre with funding of £55.5 million, while revenue from sales of data and products provides additional income of over £9.5 million.
ECMWF continued to invest in its staff , infrastructure and systems to provide the highest quality products to its Member and Co-operating States. The main areas of expenditure are summarised below, and include capital investment of £1.1 million, principally for IT and infrastructure.
The main areas of expenditure related to remuneration and related items (£25.2 million), pension schemes (£12.8 million), computer expenses (£18.2 million), buildings (£4.7 million) and other operating activities (£4.6 million). Costs associated with externally funded projects amounted to £47.7 million and net finance costs were £7.4 million.
ECMWF’s budget remains on a cash basis and the Financial Statements include a reconciliation of the results under IPSAS and in cash terms. Under cash accounting, the Centre generated a surplus of £1.856 million in 2018, which is proposed for use in the Data Centre project (subject to Council approval).
Note: all numbers exclude Centre tax.