Dear EMS members, dear friends,
everybody knows the feeling: the party is over, the tables are cleaned, and one's mind has to turn to what to do next. The year that just ended was marked by numerous jubilees. It was not only the Society 25th birthday which we celebrated at the October meeting enjoying the hospitality of the Institut Henri Poincaré and the city of Paris. In a remarkable harmony some of our corporate members celebrated jubilees marked by integer multiples of the EMS's age - six for the London Mathematical Society, five for Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung, and three for Sociedade Portuguesa de Matemática. It was no doubt an excellent opportunity to appreciate how active and multifaceted is the life of the European mathematical community.
Turning now to look to our next tasks, we see that 2016 will be full of events, the most important among them being the seventh European Congress of Mathematics in Berlin and the EMS Council meeting which will precede it. After six previous issues, the congress has found its place in Europe's mathematical calendar, as a prime opportunity to present the best this continent has to offer. Meeting in a place with a strong mathematical history and an excellent infrastructure, and being prepared by a dedicated team headed by Volker Mehrmann, this year's congress has all the prerequisites to be a memorable event. In addition to its scientific programme, we await with excitement the verdict of the congress prize committees, knowing that our prizes are now highly renowned, and in more than a few cases have appeared as precursors to the award of a Fields Medal.
As the EMS governing body, the Council is here to decide which road the Society will take in the next two-year period. It also has to renew the Executive Committee which steers the day-to-day running of the EMS. As the term of the current vice-presidents expires at the end of the year, their successors have to be elected. Some members will stand for reelection and there will be vacancies to be filled, hence nominations of colleagues willing to serve the community will be appreciated. Another important decision will concern the site of our eighth congress, to convene in 2020. The Executive Committee received two bids. They are very different, but I have no doubt the Council delegates will be presented with two solid possibilities to choose between.
The renewal does not concern the Executive Committee only. A substantial body of work is done in the the Society's eleven standing committees has, and I want to thank all those who completed their terms in them at the turn of the year. In particular, I want to express the Society's gratitude to Michel Waldschmidt, Arne Jensen, and Caroline Series who step down from the chairs of the committees for Developing Countries, Ethics, and Women in Mathematics, respectively, for their excellent work. At the end of 2016, the number of replacements in the standing committees will be even larger and I hope we will find enough people to continue this work, which is so indispensable for the Society.
Mathematical results are, of course, the core of our work, and the congress is not the only place to visit for inspiration. There will interesting regional meetings such as the Nordic Mathematical Congress in Stockholm in March, the Caucasian Mathematical Conference at the Van Lake in August, as well as conferences of our partner societies. I am particularly glad to see that, with the budget in very good shape, the EMS will be able to support seven summer schools in different areas of mathematics during 2016.
Speaking of money, let me make a small digression. There is a multitude of sources from which support to mathematical research can be drawn. One of the substantial ones, and at the same time highly prestigious, is the European Research Council, of which we hope that it will be able to keep its position in the complicated European political landscape. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it is not only a competition among mathematicians. We also compete with all the other disciplines, and if we do not try, our scientific colleagues will gladly use the spare money. I want thus to urge you to reflect about your best ideas and to be daring.
Returning to projects beyond the individual level, there is a lot of other ones the EMS is involved in. We encourage the development of the European Digital Mathematical Library with the hope, albeit distant, that one day it will be a part of the global one covering all the mathematical literature. We support the EU-MATHS-IN initiative of building a network serving the use of mathematics in industry and innovation. We collaborate with organisations supporting mathematicians in developing countries, in the first place with CIMPA, and we seek and support emerging centres of excellence in such countries.
Mathematical research is a global endeavour and we regard ourselves as members of the worldwide mathematical community. We actively keep in contact with the International Mathematical Union, and regularly speak to our colleagues in other parts of the world. Recently we signed a reciprocity and cooperation agreement with the Mathematical Society of Japan, similar to the older agreements we have with mathematical societies on other continents, and we are supporting a European speaker at the fourth Latin American Congress of Mathematicians in Barranquilla, Colombia. This being said, I have to stress we also defend the interests of European mathematics, in particular, we support the efforts to return the International Congress of Mathematicians to our continent in 2022.
I have already said that one of our priorities is the further development of our Publishing House. As an important step to improve its functioning, last year we constituted a Scientific Advisory Board headed by Jakob Yngvason which is consulted on acquisitions and the general policy of the house. Our efforts will continue to build on the achievements of the Publishing House's first thirteen years. The Society is also an active partner in the Zentralblatt für Mathematik which we will keep improving because we believe that it is important for the world to have two wells from which mathematical metadata can be drawn.
A New Year reflection like this one should not metamorph into a shopping list, thus I prefer to stop naming what the EMS did, does, should and will do. Instead I use the opportunity to wish all of you health and happiness in the year which has just started. I would add "many interesting theorems", but since for some of us with a more applied mind the most coveted achievements may take a different form, I will be more general: many new interesting mathematical results!