What is a COST Action?

Founded in 1971, COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level. COST Actions cover basic and pre-competitive research as well as activities of public utility.

COST does not fund research itself but provides a platform for European scientists to cooperate on a particular project and exchange expertise. These projects are called "Actions".

Each COST Action is a network centred around nationally-funded research projects in fields that are of interest to at least five COST countries. COST provides the COST Actions with financial support for joint activities such as conferences, short-term scientific exchanges and publications. Each COST Action has an objective, defined goals and clear deliverables. COST Actions have located their topic into one of COSTís scientific Domains.

Activities are launched following a "bottom-up" approach, meaning that the initiative of launching a COST Action comes from the European researchers themselves.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) provides the formal basis of an Action, and is signed by the Governments of the COST countries wishing to participate in the Action. The duration of an action is generally 4 years.

A detailed description of COST is available at the COST website.

A given COST Action contains:

  • Possibly national working groups, first step of coordination between researchers and research institutions. They are fully nationally organised

  • Management committee (MC) meetings, with a maximum of 3 per year. Are members of the Management committee 2 officially nominated representatives per signatory COST country. Representatives from non-COST countries have to be approved by the Committee of senior officials (CSO): most of them come from USA, Canada, Russia and Australia. The Management committee members must be designated by their national representative, usually a member of the ministry of research. The Management committee meetings are open to other participants, but without voting right. A MC meeting is not a place to discuss the scientific content, but to decide on the meetings, the working groups, etc.

  • Working Group (WG) meetings. They are open to the Management committee members, to members of non COST countries and to invited experts. The non Management committee members have to be proposed by a Management committee member and approved by the Management committee.

  • Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM): a young researcher of a COST action member spends between 5 days and 6 weeks in the lab of another COST action member. He is reimbursed per day with a maximum.

  • Workshops and seminars, usually open to external people, in order to discuss broadly the content and to disseminate the results.

  • Training schools and research seminars to train 15-20 people.

  • Evaluations and studies: a small subcontract for a COST action member.

  • Dissemination: through web sites, leaflets, etc.

  • An annual progress report and working group reports.

The COST rules are available here.