Europe has made great achievements in the fields of science, engineering and technology where the power of collaboration has lead us to many world firsts.
Large Hadron Collider
The LHC, operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), is the largest particle accelerator to date. Straddling the Franco-Swiss border, it runs for 27km, the underground project drawing on huge teams of scientists and engineers. CERN researchers discovered the Higgs boson - the particle which gives others mass - in 2012, at last confirming the Standard Model. This, and the LHC upgrade to find dark matter and energy, have propelled Europe into the lead on high energy physics.
Philae and the Rosetta Mission
The 2014 touchdown of the Philae probe on comet 67P – the first landing of its kind – captured the world’s imagination. Ten years after departing Earth, Philae and mothership Rosetta are shedding light on these enchanting cosmic phenomena: ESA has learned about comet life, structure and composition, contributing to research on the origins of oceans, the Earth and our Solar System. Philae broke hearts as, in its dying moments, it succeeded in sending its final data home. Sleep well, little lander!
Energy in Europe
In 2012, EU energy production was 34% petroleum, 23% gas, 17% coal, 14% nuclear and 11% renewables. Europe is ambitious in its energy and electricity targets: the EU seeks to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% come 2050; it is on course to meet its 20-20-20 targets; 2030 targets have been created for 40% emissions cuts, 27% renewables and 30% greater efficiency. The Energy Union will improve interconnection of Europe's world-leading solar, marine and offshore wind farms with a new smart grid.
The 38km Channel Tunnel shows the feats of civil engineering achievable when European nations work together. In 1987, boring began on the UK side of the Channel, and three months later on the French side. In 1990, the two teams broke through to meet some 75m under the sea; all three tunnels were completed by 1991. Passengers, car shuttles and freight began using the world's longest underwater tunnel in 1994. Thus, 21 million Europeans are each year brought together through true collaboration.
Europe’s ExoMars programme is its most significant visit to the Red Planet since the MarsExpress orbiter in 2003. In 2016, ESA and Roscosmos will work together to send an orbiter to Mars - this will research the Martian atmosphere whilst delivering an ESA landing demonstrator to the surface. Then, in 2018, the ExoMars rover will touch down, ESA's first successful soft landing after Beagle 2. This mission aims to analyse subsurface water and samples, searching for traces of life on Mars, past and present.
High Speed Rail
Europe currently has over 7000km of high-speed railway, predominantly in Western Europe. The EU invests heavily in the Trans-European high-speed rail network, keen to help people move more quickly and cheaply for social and economic benefits and to boost employment and construction. Our success is clear to see: the Eurostar, French TGV and German ICE are household names; Interrail helps citizens navigate the network; and Europe's AGV, TGV and Velaro E are among the world's fastest trains.
Manufacturing in Europe
Nothing speaks of the quality of European manufacturing like our highly sought after car industry; Volkswagen is, in fact, the largest manufacturing company in Europe. This sector accounts for a strong 28.4% of EU GDP, and the EU is the world's largest exporter at 15.4% of the total (compared to China at 13.4% and the USA at 10.5%). Europe produces a vast array, from cars, trains and planes to chemicals and raw materials, and from food and drink to electronics, appliances and energy installations.
The Ariane 5 launch vehicle is a pillar of European achievement, operating scientific and commercial missions for ESA and clients. The Ariane rocket series has collectively launched over half of the world's commercial satellites, this funding then being used for other ESA missions. ESA rockets are dependable and are now becoming even more affordable due to fierce competition with US SpaceX. All ESA launches take place in French Guiana - nearer the equator means higher speed, heavier payloads or less fuel.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is one of the most advanced multi-role air superiority fighters currently available. A replacement to the collaborative Panavia Tornado, the Typhoon was launched in 2003 and is in service with the air forces of the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria, having been built by those first four countries. With a top speed of Mach 2, an airframe built from state-of-the-art materials, and highly versatile cockpit, targeting and weaponry features, the Typhoon is well-placed to defend our continent.
Nuclear Fusion in Europe
Europe is a the forefront of the research and development of nuclear fusion. This hydrogen-based energy source produces only helium as waste, so it has the potential to solve our energy and climate change problems at once. In 1991, the Joint European Torus achieved the first controlled release of fusion power, and holds the records for the largest and most powerful tokamak. In 2020, ITER - led and hosted by the EU - will make the leap to produce a net power, marking a turning point for humanity.
Huygens Probe on Titan
Huygens is little-known outside the scientific community, yet it is one of the greatest feats of space exploration so far. Named after Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens who discovered Titan, Saturn's largest moon, in 1655, the ESA lander travelled to Saturn onboard the joint NASA-ESA Cassini probe (itself a remarkable mission). In 2005, Huygens made the most distant landing ever while discovering ancient rivers and lakes on Titan and detailing the moon's mysterious atmosphere and surface.
The Airbus A380 - the world's largest passenger aircraft - illustrates the prowess of European technology. The Airbus endeavour brought together French, German, British, Spanish and Dutch aerospace companies under a single banner. Originally formed to compete with strong US manufacturers, Airbus remains the only viable alternative to Boeing, outstripping its rival in order numbers for years now. European commercial partnership, then, is lucrative from a technological and commercial perspective.
Mont Blanc Tunnel
Tunnels may not appear to be the most thrilling aspect of European collaboration, but there is certainly something to be said when one French team and one Italian counterpart drill 11.6km through a mountain and meet with only 13cm of error. This success was even achieved before the aid of GPS, with the Mont Blanc tunnel opened in 1965 as the world's longest road tunnel. Now only the world's deepest, the tunnel is vital for European trade, travel and tourism, today operated by one unified authority.
Concorde was truly magnificent. With its iconic shape, droop-nose and blistering speed, the Anglo-French aircraft will be remembered as a legend of engineering. It cruised at twice the speed of sound - Mach 2, 1350mph or 2160km/h - reducing the crossing from London to New York to 3.5 hours from the 8 of the past. In 1986, the aeroplane flew around the entire planet in 30 hours. Both the aircraft and its name represented the harmony of Britain and France - Concorde was a genuinely European venture.