Brussels, 21 Mar 2006
The President welcomed the participants (Annex 2), as well as Dr SALIMBENI, Chair of Action G7, and Dr GRAVINA, who, on behalf of the President of the Toscana Region, gave a welcome address to the JAF Group, meeting in the premises of the Region.
The President informed the Group that Dr MANRIQUE REOL had resigned as JAF member, as well as from the CSO, on 1 February 2006 due to his return as researcher professor to the Spanish Research Council (CSIC). A proposal for replacement would be submitted to the next CSO meeting.
1. Adoption of the agenda
The Group adopted the provisional agenda as set out in Annex 2.
2. Approval of Summary of conclusions of the previous meeting
The Group approved the Summary of Conclusions of the JAF meeting of 12/13 October 2005 as set out in doc. COST 312/05 + ADD1.
3. Financial issues
- Summary of expenses for 2003-2007 and financial planning for FP7
The President presented general comments on the budgetary situation and financial planning (Annex 3), raising, in particular:
- that the 31% management costs include the provisions for contingencies (would the contract ESF-Commission not be renewed) and that these provisions should be returned to science activities, and - that possible gaps in financing during the transition FP6/FP7 could occur.
The COST Office informed the Group that a draft proposal with a view to the contract during FP7 would be submitted to the Commission in September 2006. Depending on the finalisation of the Financial Perspectives of the Community 2007-2013 (co-decision of the Council and the European Parliament), and subsequently the budget for FP7 and its specific programmes, it could be expected that the new contract between ESF and the Commission could be signed by end of March 2007. It was estimated that no serious gaps in financing should be expected during the transition.
The Commission representative found the scenario as presented by the COST Office realistic, and emphasised, that should there be minor delays, the ESF has at its disposal the tools to manage the transition of COST from FP6 to FP7 through the FP6 funds and any possible funds which would be returned back to COST science activities. He declared that no indication of the level of the financial support for COST foreseen under FP7 could yet be given, in view of the ongoing negotiations between the institutions (Council, Commission and Parliament) on the budget.
As to the contingencies the COST Office stated that, these provisions could potentially be reinvested in science activities, if the FP7 contract will allow the building of same type of provisions and provided that the following conditions are met:
- stage 1: as soon as the FP7 contract is signed between the ESF and the Commission (COST Office decommissioning contingencies)
- stage 2: as soon as the expenditure in the FP6 contract achieves 100% (contractual penalty of 5% in case of underspending)
- stage 3: if the FP7 contract becomes effective overlapping with the FP6 contract (with no gap in funding between the two contracts) and if stage 2 and stage 1 are both met.
The Austrian delegate, representing the current EU Presidency, encouraged CSO members to be in contact with their national representatives at the Council Research Working Party, currently preparing items on the agenda of the next Competitiveness Council meeting on
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