COST Statement on the Financial Support for COST from the 7th RTD Framework Programme as Approved by the COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) at Its 165th Meeting on 27/28 June 2006

July 10, 2006

Brussels, 07 Jul 2006

Full text of Document 256/06
Suite of documents 256/06

Subject: COST Statement on the Financial Support for COST from the 7th RTD Framework Programme as approved by the COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) at its 165th meeting on /28 June 2006

1. INTRODUCTION

COST (European CO-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research) is the longest running and widest European intergovernmental networking system for cooperation in nationally funded research. It is a cornerstone for the development of the European Research Area (ERA) and instrumental in achieving the objectives set by the European Councils of Lisbon in 2000 and Barcelona in 2002.

2. COST IS A UNIQUE INSTRUMENT AND HAS A CLEAR ROLE IN THE ERA
COST is unique in combining the following characteristics in a single, flexible structure. It is:

- a European "exploratorium" of new ideas in the most promising fields of research, thus functioning as a generator of initiatives in the Framework Programmes and as a potential source of industrial applications in EUREKA;

- a high-level scientific network able to tackle problems of societal importance;

- a framework able to ensure both scientific excellence and networking among European researchers;

- an effective tool to coordinate nationally funded research activities encouraging synergy and work sharing and avoiding duplications and gaps thus allowing a more efficient use of national resources. A" multiplier effect" is achieved: with the funds provided for COST networking a volume of research activities worth about 100 times as much is coordinated;

- an active partner in the European "neighbourhood" policy towards the scientific communities of the EU's "near neighbours";

- an asset for the EU RDT policy in its relation to the rest of the world.

3. COST REFORMS

In relation to the development of the ERA and following the COST Ministerial Conference held in Dubrovnik in 2003, COST has implemented key reforms across the whole of the COST operations:
a) Governance

Committee of Senior Officials (CSO): Strengthening of the CSO strategic role (setting strategic & political goals, mission in the ERA); reinforcement of COST governance (strengthening contacts with the scientific community and assessment and evaluation of Actions); Introduction of voting procedures in the CSO based on a qualified majority.

Devolution of non-strategic tasks to the CSO Executive Group (JAF): scrutiny of proposals for new Actions; prolongations of Actions; participation by institutions from non-COST countries; evaluation and revision of documents for the CSO; monitoring budget management and COST Office activities.

Appointment of the European Science Foundation (ESF) as the implementing agent for COST; establishment of the COST Office in Brussels to provide pro-active support for the COST system including the scientific secretariat of COST Domain Committees and Actions.

Devolution to the Actions of the day to day management by the Actions themselves through a system of ad hoc grants replacing the former centralized system.

b) Scientific domains Full review of the COST scientific domains and establishment of a new and up-to-date science structure reinforcing the role of COST as an "exploratorium" of new ideas in the most promising fields of science and scope for interdisciplinarity. c) Reform of assessment and selection of proposals for new Actions To increase penetration within the research community and ensure excellence, a "Continuous Open Call for Proposals" (the first call took place in April 2006 ) with a two-stage process (preliminary and full proposals ) has been introduced with full external peer-review and a rigorous selection procedure (first results expected in November 2006 ).

d) Development of COST Strategy for young Researchers

In response to the need to encourage more researchers early in their careers into R&D co-operation in Europe a COST strategy and consequent initiatives are presently examined to put focus on networking possibilities and more extensive involvement of young researchers in the frame of COST co-operation.

the European neighbouring countries

Introduction of support measures for researchers involved in COST Actions from the EU's "near neighbours".

dissemination and monitoring of the impact of COST results

Ensuring, through post-hoc reviews, that results from Actions and their impacts can be assessed; improved dissemination of the outcome of Actions to end-users, and generally reinforced dissemination procedures.

strengthening links with other European bodies

New and strengthened partnerships are in place or being developed with the European Commission, EUREKA, the European Science Foundation and other relevant organisations, including promoting joint activities for mutual benefit.

4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

COST has received acknowledgments from: the European scientific community which generates a rising demand for COST Actions; the High-Level Panel for the mid-term review of the EC-ESF contract for COST which recognised the important role of COST for achieving the Lisbon and Barcelona objectives and recommended continued support for COST in the future with an increase level of funding in FP7;

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