Cooperation in Scientific and Technical Research: COST debates its future (29 January), report of meeting on 13-14 December (link)

February 13, 2002

Brussels, 12 February 2002

European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research - COST Secretariat. Note: Certain aspects of COST. Brussels, 8 February 2002 (document COST 211/02). Full text

Following the meeting of the JAF Group on 29 January 2002, delegations will find herewith information on the question of possible changes in (i.a.) the management of the technical secretariat within the services of the Commission (notably DG Research).

Having taken note of different options, such as the continuation of the status quo, a further application of the devolution model, a concentration of all secretariat services within the Council and an externalised office, the Group considered that the possibility of creating an independent entity to fulfil the tasks of a technical secretariat should be explored.

In regard to the legal form that this secretariat should take, it was observed that this could be either under national law (an example was given of an international non-profit organisation under Belgian law) or as a European Agency under Community law. In the latter case, a Commission proposal would be required. However, the Commission does not intend to forward a proposal in this regard.

It voiced doubts about the "Community competence" and considered that the setting-up of a European agency under Community rules would be a lengthy procedure, reiterating its position of being unable to continue the present status of managing the technical secretariat.

Nonetheless, the Group noted that the creation by act of intergovernmental conference such as the COST Ministerial does not rule out the setting-up of an independent entity (European Agency) eligible to receive Community finance.

It was, therefore, suggested to continue to elaborate the modalities of an entity model leaving aside the question of its final legal structure and location since these questions require agreement of all COST delegations and represent a political dimension likely to be addressed at the forthcoming Ministerial Conference.

It was understood that a new structure for the technical secretariat would keep intact the present intergovernmental setting of COST as an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism governed by the Committee of Senior Officials and assisted by a secretariat represented by the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union serving as the political secretariat.

The Group took note of the Commission's statement that it would apply for membership of COST, in a form comparable to its membership of Eureka, with a view to a more efficient synergy between the Framework Programme and COST.

At the request of the Italian delegation, the Commission services will examine the possibility of maintaining alongside an independent entity the continuation of a technical secretariat as a devolution model for particular sectors, as is the present functioning in the area of Information Society and Telecommunications.

It was recalled that, in respect of future Community support to COST and the volume thereof under the sixth Framework Programme, decisions would be taken by Parliament and Council in the frame of the EU decision-making process, the latter meeting in its configuration of Research Council on 11 March next.

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European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research - COST Secretariat. Summary of conclusions - 146th meeting of the COST Senior Officials Committee held in Brussels on 13/14 December 2001. Brussels, 6 February 2002 (document COST 201/02). Full text

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