Report on the 18 Nov meeting of the COST Strategy Issues Group

January 8, 2003

Brussels, 03 Jan 2002

Full text of Document 290/02

19 December 2002
SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS
Subject: First meeting of the Strategy Issues Group (SIG) held in Brussels on 18 November 2002

1. OPENING OF THE MEETING

The Chairman welcomed the participants to the first Strategy Issues Group (SIG).

2. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA

The Committee adopted the Agenda, as set out in Telex n° 5125 of 4 November 2002.

3. OUTCOME OF THE CHEMISTRY WORKSHOP

Professor Gerard van Koten, Chairman of the Technical Committee on Chemistry, reported on the COST Chemistry workshop, which took place on 31 May and 1 June 2002. Copies of his presentation have been circulated separately to delegations.

The following items were highlighted:

- The size of Chemistry in COST (3500 scientists in 2002 in 20 COST Actions) reflects the accomplishment of 10 years of effort in European cooperation.

- The contribution of COST Chemistry to the preparation of FP6 in the frame of several research subjects in FP6.

- Joint activities with ESF, especially "Euroconferences".

- The development of COST Actions, both in number and in theme, which involves more participation of industry, especially on sustainable/green chemistry and chemistry for health issues.

- The transdisciplinary approach, notably towards such disciplines as physics, biology, engineering and environmental sciences.

- The importance of education in science and the support of young scientists using the STSM scheme.

- The appreciation of the production of scientific knowledge using the method of "joint co-signed publications in international Journals".

- The capacity to promote international co-operation in Europe and elsewhere using the global opening of COST Actions (in particular Russia and also the USA, Canada, Japan and China).

- The importance of studies in order to complement the role of TC Chemistry.

- The crucial support of scientific officers serving the TC secretariat.

4. OUTCOME OF THE NANOSTAG BRAINSTORM MEETING

Professor Jaroslav Cihlar reported on the NANOSTAG meeting, which took place on 25 October 2002.

His conclusions may be summarised as follows:

- NanoSTAG, which was launched 3 years ago, has evolved into a multidisciplinary approach to knowledge about nanoscience, allowing the domains of physics, material sciences, chemistry, biology and some engineering areas (such as telecommunications) to work together

- Very good links have been established with representatives of national programmes in Europe as well as with the relevant Commission services involved with Nano Science and Technology. This contributed to the preparation of several research items in FP6.

- Scientific officers in COST in several domains backed the interdisciplinary development of NanoStag.

5. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION (Proposal from the Greek delegation (doc. COST 240/02 Annex 2)

The Chair recalled the proposal already presented at the CSO in July.

The main discussion was on the pioneer role that COST could play using the "bottom-up" initiative in scientific co-operation as a political tool towards integration in Europe. COST has been, and continues to be, an instrument for opening contacts with new partners.

The question of whether to enhance an active policy in this respect met with reservations given the uncertainty on the total level of Community contribution to COST at this stage. However, it was indicated that other financing could be expected - for instance from the FP6 international co-operation parts - to this end.

Nevertheless, the COST Technical Committees could be requested to suggest particular relations that they would favour in developing their Actions.

COST web sites and other means of publication should be used intensively to make COST known to the outside world.

This item will be taken up again at a future SIG meeting.

6. ISSUES RELATED TO THE CSO-TC CHAIRS' MEETING ON 2 DECEMBER

Among items for an exchange of views were:

- the ability of COST to operate at full scale in the first part of 2003
- the collection of ideas from TC Chairs on cooperation with ESF
- the opinion of the TC Chairs on the Assessment Panel report.

It was recognised that the message should be conveyed that COST is in an unpleasant situation due to factors relating to the implementation of FP6 by the Commission services.

Particular attention should be given to the views of the TC Chairs on the perspectives of their scientific communities.

7. TC EVALUATION/RESTRUCTURING (doc. COST 267/02)

It was noted that several mandates of COST Technical Committees were to end in 2003: Environment, Meteorology, Physics, Social Sciences and Transport.

In this context, domain evaluation was considered, following the COST Assessment Panel recommendations, as a method of improving transparency and governance.

Where there is a relevant Technical Committee, it will participate in this process. In cases such as oceanography and fluid dynamics, the CSO could decide not to have such domains in COST.

As to activities of COST without a significant volume, such as oceanography, transfer to the ESF where there is a stronger domain could be a reasonable way of progressing and optimising the capacities of the two organisations.

In 2003 several COST domains could be evaluated with a view to a possible general restructuring. ESF stated that every five years an assessment is done of its Standing Committees by independent experts. This represents an expenditure of +/- 50000 .

Potential criteria for evaluations in COST were considered:

- number and size of COST Actions
- relation to EU programmes (FP RTD programmes and other policies)
- relation to the scientific community in Europe and, where appropriate, outside Europe
- complementarity with the ESF
- recognition of new scientific trends
- success of COST domains
- co-operation
- co-ordination capacity

It was decided to prepare a "Road Map" for the evaluation and possible restructuring of COST, which could be forwarded to the CSO at its meeting in May 2003.

To this end, the SIG should elaborate further evaluation criteria.

8. ANY OTHER ITEMS OF STRATEGIC INTEREST

The Commission informed SIG of a new Action proposal - COST G10 "Understanding pre- industrial structures in rural and mining landscapes". TCs UCE, Environment and SoS will be consulted to examine which TC would be appropriate.

ANNEX

List of participants

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