Summary of Conclusions of the meeting of the COST Strategy Issues Group (SIG), 7 March 2003 (link)

March 25, 2003

Brussels, 24 Mar 2003

Full text of Document 223/03

Subject: Third meeting of the COST Strategy Issues Group (SIG) held in Brussels on 7 March 2003


The Group adopted the Agenda as set out in telex n° 00838 of 18 February 2003.


The Group approved the Summary of Conclusions of the meeting held in Brussels on 24 January 2002 as set out in doc. COST 210/03.


Document COST 218/03 was presented as part of the strategy document to be prepared for the Ministerial Conference.

It is recalled that a strategy has to reflect the best available goals obtainable at this stage in the negotiations between ESF and the Commission.

The following items, which could be possibly integrated into the strategy paper, were discussed:

* The position of COST in ERA, the open method of co-ordination of research policy, the complementarity of COST activities with FP,

* The political capacity of COST in contribution to the construction of a united Europe, such as bridge-building towards neighbouring states of the European Union;

* The main reforms of COST, governance of the COST Office and synergy with ESF;

* The role and the characteristics of COST as a tool for co-ordination of research in Europe and its relations to instruments and programmes of FP6;

* The road map of reforms of COST;

* The strategic paper of the Scientific Officers of COST;

* The recommendations made by the COST Assessment Panel.

It was agreed that

1 observations and suggestions should be transmitted to the Chairman of the CSO before Wednesday 12 March in order for the Chairman to produce a revised document by Friday 14 March 2003.
2. an updated report from the Assessment Panel will be issued giving as addenda the COST-ESF MoU and the new guidelines for Continuous Assessment and Monitoring of COST.
3. the strategy paper and the draft Ministerial Declaration should be coherent.


Prof. J. Cihlar, Chairman of the NanoSTAG Group, presented the report, which is on the agenda of the next CSO meeting.

The discussion permitted to recognise the impact of COST as one pioneer organisation in Europe since 1995 to promote co-ordination of R&D in the field of Nano Science and Technology.

Despite the fact that COST should continue to have a clear strategy to co-ordinate efforts in the field of Nano Science and Technology, no conclusion was reached at the meeting on the way to proceed due to the uncertainty in regard to providing a scientific secretariat at this stage.

In conclusion, the SIG formulated three options:

- to accept at the next CSO the proposal to create the Nanotech strategic group;
- to agree on the continuation of strategic involvement of COST in Nano Science and Technology until the COST Office is operational, i.e. including financial support for this activity in FP6;
- to postpone a decision awaiting the outcome of results of general evaluation of scientific domains.

It was agreed that: The discussion on the subject has been completed. The final recommendation to the CSO will be defined in the next SIG meeting on March 21 based on the position of the delegations on the three abovementioned proposals.


A part of the SIG meeting was devoted to information about the situation of the scientific secretariat of COST, the consequences for co-ordination of research within the European scientific community co-operating through COST and the state of progress of the contract negotiations between Commission services and ESF.

Following information has been commented:

- The transitional period after the end of FP5 (end of 2002) had a strong impact on the scientific secretariat of COST. Only a marginal amount of grants has been allocated by the Commission.

- The European scientific community is reacting strongly to the lack of support for meetings and workshops since the beginning of 2003. This vacuum jeopardises the coordination of research in COST, especially for activities at the end of an Action, such as final evaluations.

- The contract between the Commission and the ESF, requested by the CSO following the COST-ESF MoU, is not yet completed and no finance from FP6 is available in the near future;

- No clear date for this contract has been fixed: as a working hypothesis, the date of 15 May 2003 has been given;

- The Chairman of the CSO will be informed of the progress in negotiations between ESF and the Commission services in order to be able to report to the CSO on the state of advancement of the contract between ESF and Commission to implement the COST Office;

The participants in the SIG meeting requested that:

* the text of the contract between the Commission and ESF concerning the COST Office be submitted as soon as possible to the CSO;

* any request from the Commission concerning COST management and reform should be transmitted to the CSO as soon as possible before the COST Ministerial Conference;

* all efforts should be made to find a satisfactory solution for the transitional period until the ESF-COST Office is operational.




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