Brussels, 12 Apr 2006
Delegations will find attached an indicative budget prepared by the COST Office taking account of observations by delegations during the first exchange of views at the 164th meeting of the COST CSO regarding the desired level of financial support for COST from the 7th RTD Framework Programme.
Financial support for COST in FP7
The Lisbon strategy puts research and innovation at the centre of a European policy for sustainable growth and employment. COST is coordinating nationally-funded projects to create an added value. One objective is to enable in particular young groups to advance frontier research topics, to develop required standards or to devise applications at the European level. Themes, for which no other networking opportunities exist, do require special attention, too.
The CSO decided to introduce more competition in the process of approving Actions. To achieve this objective the CSO approved appropriate Selection Criteria and agreed to launch the first Open Call. Having gained first experiences with the management of the process, this reform will contribute to a plea for substantial financial support for COST from the FP7. A pilot project to test the demand for Young Investigators Networks (YIN) will be examined shortly. Together with the encouragement to the COST National Coordinators to nominate also young researchers to the Management Committees of Actions this will establish solid grounds for the final assessment of the EC-ESF contract for the support of COST in FP6 . The outcome of this assessment could have an impact on the funding made available out of FP7.
The future of COST will also require optimised and efficient management of the funds available. It is to be expected that the process of devolution of managing the support to the Actions will be intensified. Therefore, the COST Office has planned for the transition to an annual grant system for all Actions starting in 2007. Adequate web-based tools and training will be provided for the Actions to facilitate the transition. An increase to a yearly average budget for each Action of 90000 is planned to give the Actions a necessary and flexible operational basis. As suggested by the Mid Term Review, a new instrument dedicated to YIN might offer additional specific opportunities for young researchers to be provided through the frame of COST.
To estimate the budget requirements, a preliminary calculation based on the assumption that there will be a modest growth of 5% p.a. in the number of networks is made. This will amount to a total number of 260 COST Actions (including an appropriate number specifically dedicated to young researchers) to be supported in 2013.
Overall Budget in FP7
To be able to cope with these developments, the total budget of the EC/ESF contract for the support of COST in FP7 will have to be increased. Starting from a level of funding in the order of 24 m in the year 2006, the budget will have to grow to 46 m in 2013 (incl. overheads, plus transition costs) to meet the outlined targets and applying an annual grant scheme for all Actions. This budget increase is determined by the main points:
* Increasing the number of Actions to 260.
* Action budget increased to 90.000 p.a.
* Provisions for the transition period to FP8 (potential termination of the COST Office operations) in the order of 5.3 m in 2012 in the management budget.
The total budget over the period of 7 years from 2007 to 2013 is calculated to be approximately 280 m . This represents an average funding of 38 m p.a. of which more than 79 % are dedicated for the support of science. The above sum represents less than 1 of the budget proposed by the Commission for the Specific Programme Cooperation. An adequate contract covering also a transition period to FP8 in the year 2013/2014 should enable ESF-COST to provide reliable partnership with clear accountability and sufficient flexibility to cope with actual developments for the coming years.
The required funding by years in FP7 is as follows: