New year, new EOSC

Sara Garavelli, EOSC Program Manager, CSC

Despite the difficulties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a very active year for EOSC. The end of this year marks an important milestone in the EOSC landscape: the end of the interim EOSC Governance and the start of a new EOSC era.

Officially established in November 2018 during the Vienna EOSC Launch, the EOSC interim Governance 2018-2020 had a challenging job of setting the basis for the future EOSC governance and EOSC architecture and policies. Under the advice of a Governing Board representing almost all the EU Member States and driven by a forward-looking Executive Board supported by six Working Groups, the EOSC Interim Governance achieved great results: a European Partnership Agreement for EOSC under Horizon Europe is now very close to finalisation. The EOSC Executive and Governance Boards supported by the European Commission (EC) are in the process of completing the draft EOSC partnership proposal document released in 2020 that will be officially signed at the start of 2021.

The establishment of the European Partnership Agreement for EOSC under Horizon Europe required two fundamental conditions: the set up of a legal entity for EOSC to enter into a contractual arrangement with the EC and the development of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for this partnership. 

The new EOSC Association was set up in July 2020 as an Aisbl in Belgium thanks to the voluntary effort of four founding members appointed by the Executive & Governing Boards (CESAER, CSIC, GARR, GEANT). A call inviting research performing organisations, service providers, research funding organisations, and others to join the Association was launched immediately after. Currently, the Association counts more than 180 members and observers, out of which 19 are mandated organisations representing the following countries: Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine. Have you missed the call? No worries, the application form to join the Association remains open (http://www.eoscsecretariat.eu/application-joining-eosc-association).

This week (December 17th), the first General Assembly of the Association will be held online to select and elect the President of the Association and the 8 Directors that will steer the strategy of the EOSC Association in the next years. The Association is a significant step for the future of EOSC! Can’t wait to see the results.

In parallel with the Association set-up, a vast amount of work has been done by the EOSC Governance in collaboration with the whole EOSC community to prepare the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (a version 0.9 is now available). The SRIA defines the general framework for future strategic research, development, and innovation activities concerning EOSC. It will feed into the work programmes, which will define future projects and funding under Horizon Europe. SRIA is a document meant to become the bible for future EOSC. It is well worth reading. 

And what about the EOSC Working Groups? Many people are asking what’s happening with the work initiated by the EOSC WGs operational in 2020. They will also end their mandate at the end of this year. Still, the EOSC Association is planning to set up new Working Groups in 2021 to support the future evolution of EOSC, so if you are interested in participating…stay tuned… more is coming in 2021. In the meantime, you can read all the documents released by the Working Groups behind this link: https://www.eoscsecretariat.eu/documents-governance. They include, among the others, the set of agreed and tested EOSC Rules of Participation, the analysis of the existing national infrastructures and policies, the EOSC Interoperability Framework, the EOSC Persistent Identifier policy, the Metrics for FAIR data and certified services.

And how all of this is impacting the EOSC stakeholders? Many organisations involved or interested in EOSC have decided to join the EOSC Association; in Finland, for example, CSC-IT Center for Science has become a member. In many countries, EOSC national hubs have been created to coordinate activities at the national level. 

Expectations for 2021 are high; let’s relax this Christmas to get back to full speed next January.