Brussels, 01 Mar 2005
Further to the Committee's conclusions at its 160th meeting on synergy between COST and the ESF (see doc. COST 341/04 point 12), delegations will find attached an illustration of the various ESF instruments prepared by the COST Office with a view to Agenda Item 4 of the 161st CSO meeting to be held on 15-16 March 2005.
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The CSO, at its 159th meeting on ­ 28 May 2004, confirmed that tasks of the 'former Bureau' would be taken over by the new JAF Group1:
- decisions on requests for extension of an Action (up to 12 months)
- recommendations to the CSO
- on requests for prolongation of an Action (more than 12 months)
- on requests for participation from non-COST institutes.
The JAF, at its meeting on 16-17 February 2005, felt that the distinction between extensions and prolongations no longer constitutes a workable basis for rapid decision-making and therefore agreed to propose that the CSO derogate the decision-making power on all prolongations to JAF.
* * *
A legal obligation to assess the operation of the COST-ESF MoU stems directly from the 7th point of the very MoU, which says as follows:
COST and the ESF decided to assess the operation of the MoU at the latest by 1 July 2005 with a view to transmitting their opinions, and possible recommendations for the future to the Council, Parliament and Commission, in particular to provide the latter with suggestions likely to be relevant for future Framework Programme proposals.
The provisions of the COST-ESF MoU have been executed:
- the ESF was prepared, as from 1 January 2003, to act as the legal entity to provide and manage the administrative, technical and scientific secretariat for COST, its Technical Committees and its Actions, dependent of the appropriate funding for the COST activities and the COST Office made available from the EU RTD framework programme (point 1.)
- the ESF has established the COST Office, the main functions and responsibilities of which are set out in Annex 1 to the MoU (point 2.);
- under the new arrangement, COST has retained its characteristics of an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism governed by the CSO as its decision-making body (point 3.)
* * *
Subject: 161st CSO meeting on 15-16 March 2005, agenda item 7
- Action-related items
= New Action proposals
= Requests for extension of the duration of COST Actions
= Requests for participation from institutes from non-COST countries
(a) New Action proposals
Seventeen new Action proposals are available on the COST Office website: http://cost.cordis.lu/src/161st-cso.cfm.
The Committee is invited to approve the draft Memoranda of Understanding for the new Actions as referred to in this document.
According to the procedure for approval of new COST Actions as set out in doc. COST 301/04, delegations are invited to confirm their intention to sign and to provide nominations of the Management Committee members at the 161st CSO meeting.
* * *
1. The above item was the subject of document COST 214/05, which was on the Agenda of the JAF meeting of 16-17 February 2005. The annexes are unchanged.
2. It is recalled that paragraph 10 of the Ministerial Declaration on COST of May 2003 recommends that the CSO review the structure of the research domains1.
3. The Committee agreed at its 157th meeting2 to the first domain review to be held in the area of Chemical and Physical Sciences and approved at its 158th meeting the Terms of Reference for that purpose3.
4. The Review Panel report, which has been available since the beginning of this year, has been circulated to the Committee. JAF at its above meeting held an exchange of views with the Panel's Chair, Prof. Rojo. It emerged from this exchange of views that JAF supports the view of the Panel in regard to the domains reviewed and recommends the Committee to arrive at the following decisions:
* * *
Based on the attached note from the COST Office, JAF examined at its meeting on 16 and 17 February 2005, the practice of quality control in COST.
With reference to the existing guidelines1, which recommend an Assessment Panel for new proposals comprising the TC rapporteur, additional TC members and/or up to three external experts, JAF suggests that the Committee should agree on:
(i) the consistent use of external peer reviewers for the assessment of full proposals for new Actions and for the final evaluation of completed Actions, and
(ii) the introduction of payment of honoraries for the members of assessment and evaluation panels
The latter is estimated at 500,000 in the annual budget of the Office and requires a further assessment by the ESF of the financial impact on the contract it has concluded with the European Commission to act as "implementing agent" to support the scientific activities of COST.
* * *
The above proposal on the introduction of a call for proposals system in COST as laid down in the Annex has been forwarded by the COST Office and was examined by JAF at its meeting held on 16-17 February 2005.
JAF arrived at the recommendation to the Committee to introduce, whilst fully respecting the "bottom-up" principle of COST, a permanent process of "call for proposals".
These calls are to be based on a two-stage preparation, distinguishing between the full and the preliminary proposal.
The preliminary proposals, based on the meetings of the relevant Technical Committees as well as the related publicity for the "call approach", would be linked to three cut-off dates annually in that process.
The Committee is invited to approve the above recommendation.
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