COST, the oldest intergovernmental framework promoting co-operation among researchers across Europe, has undergone reforms in order to improve its contribution to the building of the European Research Area (ERA).
The aim of the European Research Area, initiated by the Commission in 2000, is to create a true European ‘internal research market’ to promote co-operation and co-ordination of national research activities. COST, an intergovernmental European framework for co-operation between nationally funded research activities, in place since 1971, has an important role in networking national research programmes.
To improve the efficiency and impact of COST and to prepare for the future scientific challenges, a new, more focused COST scientific research domain structure will become operational, as from 1 June 2006, and replace the current system of various technical committees. ‘Science management’ of COST is also under reform as best scientific practice measures are currently being put in place.
COST, qualified as “a long time ally of the European Communities in fighting fragmentation of research” by Science and Research Commissioner Janez Poto?nik, does not fund research itself. Instead, its funding is used to cover co-ordination costs, such as contributions to workshops, travel costs for meetings and short term scientific missions of researchers to visit other laboratories. The COST Actions are networks of co-coordinated national research projects with participant from at least 5 different countries.
An exhibition on COST takes place at the European Parliament premises in Brussels on 18-21 April 2006.