Created in 1971, COST has laid the foundations of European cooperation in research and development.
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is an intergovernmental and pan-European network for the coordination of research activities, established by a resolution adopted by research ministers gathered at a meeting of the Council of the European Union on 22-23 November 1971. Based in Brussels, this structure is intended to encourage the networking of nationally funded research activities. COST has 36 member countries (28 EU member states plus Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Norway, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey) and one cooperating state (Israel). Since 1989, research institutes of non-member countries may take part in certain COST Actions.
Coordination of research in COST
COST is a structure enabling the coordination of research activities; it does not impose top-down research programmes and refrains from establishing any concerted research policies.
COST activities are carried out in the form of COST Actions, which are essentially coordinated research endeavours undertaken by at least five different COST member countries. Each COST Action is coordinated by a management committee comprised of representatives of participating countries. A COST Action lasts for four years and facilitates coordination by various means (e.g. working groups, conferences, workshops, short-term scientific missions (STSMs), training schools, publications). COST Actions are the result of a bottom-up process. The decision on whether to launch a given Action is decided by the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO). Member countries are free to decide whether to take part in COST Actions, which are launched when at least five different member countries express an interest in coordinating national research projects around a given research theme. COST Actions are subject to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) approved by the governments of the COST member countries wishing to take part.
The bottom-up approach leaves ample room for the choice of research themes. COST is characterised by a great variety of Actions in a wide range of different scientific disciplines.
Cooperation within the COST framework is governed by four principles:
- COST Actions may be proposed by researchers from member countries (bottom-up principle);
- Participation in COST Actions is voluntary: member countries are free to decide whether they wish to take part in a COST Action or not;
- Research is funded at the national level by each member country taking part in a given COST Action; Funding for the coordination of COST Actions at the European level are drawn from the budget of the EU's research framework programme;
- A COST Action forms the basis for the European-wide coordination of national research projects; the research projects pursued for each COST Action are supervised by an international management committee.
Why take part in COST?
For experienced researchers: By working with researchers from other COST member countries, experienced Swiss researchers can use COST to create an Action and then coordinate the national research projects of participating countries in various ways (management committee, working groups, workshops, conferences, publications) to build up new knowledge, create technical jargon that is common to various disciplines, consolidate their experience by comparing their work with that carried out by European research colleagues, or disseminating their research findings.
For a young researcher: By joining a COST Action, young Swiss researchers can compare their knowledge in various working groups for that Action, develop techniques in another European institute by taking part in an STSM, or deepen their knowledge by attending a training school.
Numerous COST activities are also presented on the YouTube Channel of the COST Office.