Summary of Conclusions JAF Group Meeting Held in Brussels on 12 September 2003

September 26, 2003

Brussels, 25 Sep 2003

Full text of Document 4/03
Suite of documents 4/03

23 September 2003

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS
Subject: JAF Group meeting held in Brussels on 12 September 2003

1. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA

The Group adopted the Agenda, as set out in Telex n° 3466 of 16 July 2003.

2. SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING

The Group approved the Summary of Conclusions of the JAF Meeting of 7-8 May 2003 as set out in doc. COST 250/03.

3. STATUS REPORT ON THE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE ESF AND THE COMMISSION AND ON THE COST OFFICE

The ESF representative stated that the contract between the ESF and the Commission had been signed by both parties at the end of August and was now in force. The first part of the contract was concluded for 18 months (until 31.12.04) with a budget of 22 M . The COST Office would call up all Actions to employ full activity in 2004 as the contract entails an obligation to use the grant completely within the said timeframe.

The contract now enables taking concrete steps for the establishment of the new COST Office in "Tour Louise", Avenue Louise 149, 21st floor. The premises allow small office meetings, and larger meeting rooms in the building can be made available for COST on advance request. Practical arrangements concerning office equipment, computers etc. are being made and the target date for the new office to be operational is 1 November 2003, although this may be a little optimistic.

The ESF has met with all current staff and is presently working on the employment packages. Negotiations with the Belgian Federal Finance Ministry are likely to bring a solution to the complex issue of tax exemption.

The Commission representative confirmed that the level of commitments of the 5 M that had been made available for the transitional period had reached 3.2 M whereas the intention is to use the amount to its full extent.

The Commission would now start reflecting on its future involvement in COST and its intention to become a more active partner.

In reply to questions from delegations the ESF representative confirmed that the Secretary General of the ESF would shortly communicate his choice as the Head of the COST Office. The need to have stability in the Office after a period of uncertainty was stressed. Simultaneously a press release was also foreseen.

The Norwegian delegation reiterated its concern for the current staff as already expressed during the last CSO meeting in July.

The Italian delegate, in his capacity as the TIST Chair, expressed the concerns on TIST area, where the yearly grant had expired on 1 July 03 and no Scientific Officer had yet been recruited. Close contacts with the present Secretariat (DG INFSO) were recommended in the transitional period to assure continuity.

The ESF representative proposed to involve the COST national co-ordinators immediately in the recruitment process. There would be an immediate vacancy in TIST (and possibly in other areas) and the NCCs were invited to forward candidatures for the posts.

It was confirmed that all current SNEs were recruited to the new office for the period of their present contracts with the Commission.

4. ACTION STATISTICS, WORKPLAN 2004, FINANCIAL PLANNING FOR 2004

The Commission representative made available statistics on "COST Status September 2003".

It was recalled that Actions that had failed to start within twelve months of the date of approval of the MoU by the CSO needed to be revalidated by the CSO. This would be the case for Actions 855, 351, 533, 724, 857, 858, 924, E32 and P9 (as the first meeting of the MC has not been held) and Action 352 (due to lack of 5 signatures).

The recent delays in signatures were considered as a consequence of the long period of transition towards the establishment of the COST Office.

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