Summary of reforms proposed for COST administration (link to draft statutes)

July 8, 2002

Brussels, 5 July 2002

Draft Statutes for a COST International Association. Proposal to prepare for changes for the COST scientific secretariat. Note from the Chairman. European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research - COST Secretariat. Brussels, 2 July 2002 (document COST 235/2/02 REV 2). Full text

It has become clear that unless COST manages to reorganise the scientific and administrative secretariat in a satisfactory way there is a risk that the whole COST framework will cease to function and will be permanently lost. At the same time, due to the increasing political support for COST, a successful reorganisation will entail an enormous potential for improving the functioning of COST.

A. Progress to date

The discussions in CSO have shown that, whilst there still exists differences in opinions on what the best solution for the COST secretariat would be, there are some questions where a consensus already can be reached:

1. A change has to be made.

2. The change must not lead to the loss of the identity of COST.

3. COST must retain its main characteristics: bottom up, à la carte, variable geometry.

4. Full authority and responsibility for planning and running COST shall remain with the CSO.

5. It is desirable that the secretariat of the CSO remains in the Council Secretariat.

6. There are at the moment two alternatives left for serious consideration for the scientific secretariat: a closer co-operation with ESF or an independent COST secretariat.

7. For an independent secretariat a new legal body is indispensable.

B. The proposed legal body

The proposed legal body is an International Association under Belgian law (see attached draft statutes). The statutes are written so that the Association can be used as a legal body for the handling of the COST finances even if the Secretariat is placed with another entity, e.g. ESF.

Even in this case it may be necessary to establish a separate legal body to be able to safeguard the identity of COST in ERA in the future.

The discussions have shown that the CSO wants the legal body to be as simple as possible and only to encompass the functions of the current Commission COST Secretariat. The draft statutes have now been rewritten so that the name of the Association would be simply "The COST Office" and The COST Office would only perform tasks on which it has a written agreement with the CSO. The membership in the Association would be voluntary.

The possibility that the EC becomes a Member of COST and would want to participate in the Association is now covered by the statement that any other entity that has been accepted as full Member of COST has the right to membership in the association. At the same time it is foreseen that the Council Secretariat has the right to participate in the General Assembly as an observer whether the EC is a Member or not.

The CSO is reminded that a decision in principle on the contents of the statutes also is needed to be able to proceed.

C. Decisions needed

To maintain the credibility of, and the favourable climate for COST, a clear signal is needed from the CSO to decision-makers in the EU and the COST countries and to COST- participants everywhere. If no decisions at all are taken at the CSO-meeting on the 4. - 5.7.2002 it will become impossible to prepare for the future without serious difficulties and disruptions of the activities, and COST may not be given the necessary financing in FP6.

The CSO is therefore invited to decide to ask the Chair to finalise the statutes according to the attached proposal so that they are fully compatible with Belgian law and to start procedures to register this association. If any changes in principle are required to the proposed statutes, they have to be approved by the CSO, if necessary by written procedure.

The CSO is also invited to reconfirm its wish to remain the governing body of COST and that it prefers the current arrangement where the political secretariat of the CSO is handled by the Council Secretariat.


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