Brussels, 15 July 2005
COST (European Co-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research) is a suitable mechanism for contributing to the Lisbon and Barcelona goals, due to its role in assisting the co-ordination of national research, an expert panel has told the Commission. The experts found that its structure and operating procedures are designed to be simple and responsive, making it particularly appropriate for involving new countries and new research groups. The flexibility of COST makes it attractive to young people and it has a role as good preparation for participation in European research programmes. Following positive developments in reforming COST’s science management, the expert panel was able to recommend the granting of the full €80m provided in the Sixth Framework Programme to the European Science Foundation , which provides the scientific secretariat for COST.
The panel’s findings were:
- Commission should release the full amount of €80m for COST
- Support should continue under future Framework programmes
- ESF should plan a smooth transition to the Seventh Framework Programme
- Increased funding should be considered, subject to continuing the strengthening of science management
- Strategic reform work should continue
- Technical Committees and Actions should be continuously reviewed
- The time taken to approve new Actions should be reduced
- New IT tools for financial management should be fully used
- More effort should be put into communicating with the R&D Community and national administrations
- A full assessment should be carried out in 2007
COST has received direct funding from the EU since the 1980s, and the European Commission provided its operational secretariat until 2003. In 2002, an independent assessment recommended a continuation of the initiative and its financial support from the Framework Programme, coupled with reforms of its operations, addressing the scientific management, governance and organisational structures in COST. At the same time, the Commission announced its intention to stop providing the secretariat.
Since 2003, the COST Office, which provides the scientific secretariat for COST Technical and Action Management Committees has been operated by ESF. A financial contribution in the range of €50m-€80m was earmarked in the Sixth Framework Programme. Both Commission and Member States (Council) agreed that the exact amount of funding of COST would depend on the success of the reforms. It was agreed to carry out a mid-term review, to analyse the reforms and make recommendations to the Commission. The panel was chaired by Dr Raoul Kneucker, former Director-General at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
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