A strategy for Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST)

April 2, 2003

Brussels, 01 Apr 2003

Full text of Document 218/1/03 Revision 1
Suite of documents 218/1/03

Delegations will find attached a revised version of the strategy document based on comments received from delegations.

The document will be discussed at the next JAF/SIG meeting on 20 - 21 March 2003.




The mission of COST is to facilitate cooperation between researchers and research units in Europe and thereby contribute to the development of the European Research and Innovation. COST identifies and develops new scientific ideas and complements and reinforces activities of other European initiatives in scientific and technical research cooperation to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe.


COST is a dynamic and efficient intergovernmental initiative organised to identify, create and develop research cooperation and network activities that can maximise European synergies and added value in pre-competitive research and development. The R&D-community and the decision- makers of the COST member countries and the European Union acknowledge that COST is the best instrument in Europe for certain aspects of scientific and technical cooperation and interaction and that COST gives excellent value for money.


COST shall

* contribute in an essential way to the strengthening of the European Research and Innovation Area in:

- pre-competitive research
- pre-normative cooperation
- solving environmental and cross-border problems
- solving problems of public utility;
* continue to contribute to the integration of all COST countries into European research;
* increase the participation from COST neighbour countries in its Actions;
* increase the impact of its Actions and the efficiency of its operation.


On the initiative of researchers, COST identifies and organises high quality flexible COST Actions in any area of science or technology, in which a minimum of five COST countries participate, and finances cooperation costs only of these Actions, the research activities themselves being funded at a national level. High quality is assured by a continuous assessment, monitoring and evaluation procedure and particular attention is paid to the dissemination and exploitation of the results of Actions.

Leverage effect
The COST cooperation coordinates nationally funded research efforts that are not part of the Framework Programme or other European initiatives. Each year the research volume coordinated by COST amounts to around two billion euro and involves tens of thousands of researchers with a budget of around one percent of the research volume.

Flexibility and openness
According to the à la carte principle, COST countries can participate in any Action in accordance with their skills and resources. Within the general guidelines of COST, the participants in an Action can organise the work as best suits the Action. Entities from non-member countries are encouraged to participate in Actions on a basis of open exchange and mutual benefit.

New multidisciplinary topics
COST looks especially for new multidisciplinary research topics in any domain, which can find added value in extensive European cooperation. To find such topics COST participates actively in forward-looking activities for R&D, especially those of the European Commission and of the European Science Foundation.

COST identifies research and development topics that can best be handled by participants from a large number of countries, and plans for a structured and goal-oriented approach to study those topics. COST encourages and finances networking between research entities, public bodies and private enterprises specifically to achieve the transfer of knowledge and know-how within COST Actions and to the outside. COST networks contribute to the formation of partnerships for other initiatives in Europe and beyond.

Complementarity and cooperation
COST looks for and supports research topics that complement or have synergies with the activities of other initiatives in Europe, in particular the EU Framework Programmes, EUREKA and ESF. COST cooperates actively with these initiatives and intensive exchange of information at the planning stage with these and other organisations are part of the regular procedure.

COST maintains an efficient, bottom-up, user-driven and democratic organisation with the CSO as the highest decision-making body and is supported by a capable, cost-effective secretariat function to plan and execute the work and the cooperation with other actors in the field and to disseminate the results of its Actions.

The main instruments for COST Actions are designed to increase networking and coordination of national and regional research and innovation activities and the mobility of especially young scientists. They include short-term scientific missions, conferences, workshops and publications. The cooperation often ignites activities in the Framework Programme, EUREKA and other initiatives.

The dissemination of the results and findings of Actions is a central activity in COST policy. Dissemination is carried out through webpages, conferences, workshops, newsletters and publications. The target group includes the scientific community, industry, professional users, politicians and other decision-makers and the civil society.

3 Strategic Axes: Position in ERA, research quality and efficiency

1. COST, in the European Research and Innovation Area,

1.1 Complements other European initiatives
Coordinates nationally funded research and innovation activities that fall outside the focus of the Framework Programme or other European initiatives;

1.2 Capitalises on synergies with other initiatives
Devises mechanisms to better utilise synergies and complementarities with other research initiatives in Europe;

1.3 Contributes to the integration of ERA
Lends impetus and assistance to all COST Countries to participate fully in the European Research and Innovation Area;

1.4 Increases cooperation with neighbouring countries
Lends support, in the scientific and technological field, to the implementation of the Community`s foreign policy, especially in Mediterranean third countries including the Western Balkans and in Russia in the context of the Northern Dimension;

1.5 Encourages non-European cooperation
Strengthens contacts with non-European actors on the basis of mutual benefit to help European researchers, businesses and research organisations in the EU and the countries associated with the Framework Programme to have access to knowledge and expertise existing elsewhere in the world;

1.6 Encourages enlargement of COST
Encourages all countries in Europe that fulfil the criteria established by the CSO to become members of COST;

2. Research quality

2.1 Improves the quality of Actions
Efficiently applies the COST guidelines for assessment, continuous evaluation and monitoring of Actions;

2.2 Improves the impact of Actions
Improves dissemination activities and finds and uses tools for impact assessment and reporting;

2.3 Reviews the domain structure
Systematically reviews the domain structure to best serve the needs of frontier and leading edge technologies and to optimise the use of resources;

3. Efficiency

3.1 Reviews the legal status of COST
Examines the possibilities to provide COST with an appropriate and stable legal frame for the longer term;

3.2 Improves the work of the CSO
Improves the modus operandi of the CSO and its subgroups based on existing proposals and continues to develop ideas for increased efficiency and new ways of working;

3.3 Reforms the secretarial services to serve COST better
Gives the COST Office an active role in the development of COST at all levels and plans for the continuity of the services;

3.4 Utilises the potential of the Technical Committees
Re-defines and enhances the role of the Technical Committees and gives them adequate resources to fulfil their role to ensure the innovative spirit of COST;

3.5 Improves the management of Actions through devolution of activities
Provides greater freedom and flexibility to Actions by delegating budget and management responsibilities directly to Management Committees.

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