Positive Outcome of High Level Review of COST and recommends further funding
The European Commission released the following Press Release on 15/07/05.
"COST (European Co-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research) is a suitable mechanism for contributing to the Lisbon and Barcelona goals, due to its role in assisting the co-ordination of national research" an expert panel has told the Commission. The experts found that its structure and operating procedures are designed to be simple and responsive, making it particularly appropriate for involving new countries and new research groups. The flexibility of COST makes it attractive to young people and it has a role as good preparation for participation in European research programmes. Following positive developments in reforming COSTs science management, the expert panel was able to recommend the granting of the full €80M provided in the Sixth Framework Programme for the contract to the European Science Foundation (ESF), which provides the scientific secretariat for COST.
The Panels findings were that:
• The European Commission should release the full amount of €80M for COST allocated within the Sixth Framework Programme;
• COST should continue to be supported under future Framework Programmes;
• ESF together with the CSO should plan a smooth transition to the Seventh Framework Programme;
• Increased funding should be considered, subject to continuing the strengthening of science management;
• Strategic reform work should continue;
• The current restructuring of COST Technical Committees must continue as part of the ongoing process of review and reform.
• Actions should be kept under continuous review
• The time taken to approve and launch new Actions, already very substantially reduced ,should be reduced still further;
• The implementation of new IT tools for financial management currently being put in place should be accelerated;
• A bigger effort should be put into communicating with the R&D Community and national administrations;
• A further full assessment should be carried out in 2007.
COST was established by a Conference of European Research Ministers in 1971 as an inter-governmental framework for co-ordinating nationally-funded research at European level. It has since developed into one of the largest frameworks for research co-operation.
COST has received direct funding from the EU since the 1980s, and the European Commission provided its operational secretariat until 2003. In 2002, an independent assessment recommended a continuation of the initiative and its financial support from the Framework Programme, coupled with reforms of its operations, addressing the scientific management, governance and organisational structures in COST. At the same time, the Commission announced its intention to stop providing the scientific secretariat.
Since 2003, the COST Office, which provides the scientific support for COST Technical and Actions Management Committees has been provided by ESF. A financial contribution in the range of €50M-€80M was earmarked in the Sixth Framework Programme. Both the European Commission and the EU Member States agreed that the exact amount of funding of COST would depend on the success of the reform and modernisation process.
The European Commission established a mid-term review, to analyse the reforms and make recommendations to the Commission. The panel was chaired by Dr Raoul Kneucker, former Director-General at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
Professor Francesco Fedi, President of the COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) warmly welcomed the report and its positive findings. He said “This review is a full vindication of the role and importance of COST in the ERA. It also shows that the partnership between the CSO and the ESF is working in an efficient and productive manner. Most of all, the recommendation to release the full funding for COST in FP6 and and to continue to support COST in future Framework Programmes, based on the ongoing reform process, shows the determination of the CSO to implement reforms and recognizes that the COST system is now even more efficient and accessible to the European research community”.
Tony Mayer | alfa