Brussels, 18 Jul 2005
An expert panel has recommended that the European Commission release the foreseen 80 million euro to COST (European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research) under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
COST is an intergovernmental framework, established in 1971, to coordinate nationally-funded research at European level. It has developed into one of the largest structures for research cooperation, suitable for contributing to the Lisbon and Barcelona goals, according to the expert panel.
The panel, chaired by former Director-General at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, found COST's operating procedures simple and responsive, and particularly appropriate for integrating new countries and research groups. The flexibility of COST was also found to make it attractive to young people.
The panel recommended the release of the full 80 million euro under FP7, and emphasised that support should continue under future framework programmes. If the Commission is in agreement, the funds will be granted to the European Science Foundation (ESF), which has provided the scientific secretariat for COST since 2003.
COST has received direct funding from the EU since the 1980s, and the European Commission provided its operational secretariat until the ESF took over in 2003. The change in secretariat was accompanied by operational reforms addressing scientific management, governance and organisational structures following recommendations in an independent assessment.
During discussions on FP6, the Commission and Council of Ministers agreed that the exact amount of funding granted to COST would depend on the success of reforms. The review by the expert panel was intended to assess just this.
While the panel endorsed the granting of 80 million euro, it also made a number of other recommendations, including the continuation of strategic reform work. Increased funding should be considered, subject to the continued strengthening of science management, the panel added.
Further recommendations address the time taken to approve new actions, further use of IT tools for financial management, and communicating with the research community and national administrations.
For further information on COST, please visit: