Brussels, 28 Feb 2003
The draft will be discussed by the JAF Group at its next meeting on 21 March 2003.
DG C EN DRAFT REPORT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF SENIOR OFFICIALS ADOPTED ON . .. TO THE MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON THE STATE AND FUTURE OF COST
The COST intergovernmental organisation, established in 1971, offers a structure of cooperation and consultation among 34 Member States and 1 co-operating state that meets the need for European coordination in different research domains. Each coordination takes the form of a Concerted Action by way of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by a minimum of five COST countries. COST Actions, of 4 years duration as a rule, may cover any promising field of research.
Over 30 years COST has proven its value as an important instrument for coordination of research in Europe, in particular by taking up emerging areas of science and technology. The European scientific community participates with enthusiasm in the COST framework that allows for flexible research cooperation through setting-up efficient scientific networks. COST has seen a number of new members and a rapid growth in the volume and scope of Actions.
The main objective of COST is to provide a mechanism for integration of European R&D, thereby also fostering European integration as a whole, and promoting international cooperation at the borders of Europe. COST Activities are characterised by the principle of open and equal access for European researchers into networks built on coordination of national research resources.
DEVELOPMENT SINCE 1997
Following up on the decisions made at the Prague Ministerial Conference in 1997, COST has welcomed ten new Member States1, and improved the dissemination of the results of COST Actions, thus increasing the awareness of the opportunities offered by COST.
An overall view of the achievements as measured against the future goals listed at the Prague Conference is given in the Annex. The main results can be summarised as follows:
* new harmonised procedures for continuous evaluation and monitoring of the Actions;
* the Action size increased to reach on average 15 participating countries;
* within the domain of Telecommunication and Information Science and Technology, testing of new procedures for administration of COST Actions;
* integration of 10 new member or co-operating States;
* new publication policy extending support to external editors and publishers;
* more focus on inter-disciplinary approach using "ad hoc" groups for emerging areas;
* introduction of transparent budget allocation process;
* extensive use of electronic communication at all levels and creation of websites at the Council General Secretariat, the Commission, COST domain level, COST Action level and national COST level.
However, COST has faced problems: budget constraints have stopped the growth in the number of Actions since 1998 and more proposals for Actions qualified for support have been rejected.
1 Estonia, Malta, Romania (1997), Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia (1999), Israel (2000), Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (2001), Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2002)