COST is an intergovernmental European framework for international cooperation on research activities funded at the national or regional level. These activities may take the form of pre-competitive or fundamental works, or even activities that are in the public interest.
It is the oldest European networking system for research: it was created in 1971 and currently includes 38 member states, 1 cooperating state (Israel) and 1 partner member (South Africa).
COST plays a major role in the development of scientific and technical cooperation in Europe and is an important pillar of the European Research Area (ERA).
Funding from COST only covers travel and subsistence costs for the two members of the Management Committee to participate in committee meetings. Under certain conditions, COST also offers financial support for the Actions’ networking activities, such as organising meetings, conferences, workshops, short-term scientific missions, summer schools and training programmes, publications and other promotional and dissemination activities in the scientific sector.
Participants in a COST Action supported by the Walloon region include:
- an approved research centre;
- a college department or a research centre linked to a college;
- a large company or an SME.
Principles of participation
The organisation of the COST framework is based on four key principles:
- any COST member state, including the Commission, may propose COST Actions;
- participation in these Actions is optional and ‘à la carte’ (variable geometry). Only countries that are interested participate;
- research is funded at the national or regional level; coordination costs are covered by the European Commission (or by the participating countries);
- cooperation takes the form of ‘concerted Actions’. As a result, it involves coordinating research activities that take place in the same field, for example, in order to determine shared methodologies or protocols, common standards, or to develop shared databases and organise tests, trials or comparative analyses.
New COST projects can be proposed by individual scientists, research institutes or industrial companies.
Generally speaking, European Commission funding only covers two researchers per country. However, a country may finance other participants with the consent of the other countries, by signing the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI). Belgium, and the Walloon region in particular, is one example of this.
Target audience – Eligibility criteria
The target audience and the eligibility criteria can be found on the COST website in the following document:
Assessment criteria and project selection
The assessment and project selection criteria can be found on the COST website in the following document:
In addition to European funding, the Walloon region has been funding the following since 1 January 2000:
Funding for research activities:
Sponsors’ research activities do not benefit from any particular mechanism. Researchers may be funded by calls for initiatives from the Walloon region or sources outside of Wallonia.
Wallonia may cover transport, accommodation and subsistence costs that COST is unwilling to cover, for example, to participate in a meeting of a COST Action working group. Requests for contributions to travel and subsistence costs must be submitted to the Research Programmes Department one month before the scheduled date of the meeting using the ad hoc document. After being approved by the Research Programmes Department, the costs will be reimbursed once a mission report and original copies of the supporting documents have been submitted.
Hosting foreign experts in Wallonia:
Wallonia offers a subsidy to the host university for hosting costs. This is defined by the number of foreign researchers who are members of COST (from outside Belgium) who are invited. These costs will be reimbursed upon submission of supporting documents; however, they must not exceed the provided amount.
Organising seminars in Wallonia:
Wallonia provides financial support for organising seminars, where these are likely to contribute to promoting and disseminating Walloon expertise and potential in the fields of research, innovation and technology to SMEs.
Secretariat costs for a COST action:
Wallonia cannot cover the secretariat costs of a COST Action, since the European Commission manages this function itself, if the duties are carried out outside of the region.
Joining an on-going COST Action:
A researcher applying for an on-going COST Action may apply to participate at any time up to six months before the end of the Action. Their application must be duly motivated and accepted by the Management Committee for the Action.
Contact the COST programme manager for the Walloon region to prepare your application.
Submitting a COST Action proposal:
COST calls for proposals collect proposals once or twice per year, depending on the budgets granted by the European Commission in its contract with the COST organisation. A proposal comprises a file that is 15 pages long at most, presented according to a precise template, and satisfies well-defined criteria that are clearly explained in the COST documentation. A COST Action lasts four years.
The Research Programmes Department organises an annual information session for those who are proposing a future COST Action, in collaboration with the other research-funding bodies for federal and federated entities. Testimonials from Belgian Action coordinators and writing tips are provided. Presentations from the 2021 information session are available on the BELSPO website: https://www.belspo.be/belspo/cost/agenda_fr.stm.
Proposals that are submitted during a call for proposals are assessed by expert committees, in order to ensure a neutral and transparent assessment. The COST secretariat, in collaboration with the entity proposing the project, prepares a memorandum of understanding that defines the kind of activities to be carried out, the common goals and means of participation and governs rights pertaining to sovereignty and, if necessary, the protection of intellectual property. This memorandum of understanding must subsequently be approved by a Committee of Senior Officials and signed by the national authorities.
The COST Committee of Senior Officials, in which BELSPO represents Belgium, determines the general strategy for COST cooperation and selects the new actions that should be launched.
The time between the application and the launch of a new COST Action is nine to twelve months.
How can I contact the department who made the decision?
You may contact the administrative department that made the decision at any time, independently of the appeal procedures outlined below, in order to obtain information about why the application was rejected.
You must contact the following department:
PSW Economy, Employment and Research
Technological Research and Development Department
Place de la Wallonie, 1 (Building III), 5100 NAMUR (JAMBES)
Phone no.: +32 (0)81 33 45 32
This free process is not subject to any specific formalities and does not suspend the periods for filing an appeal. The absence of a response from the administration does not constitute acceptance of your request.
How to file an appeal
Unless the dispute can be viewed as relating to a subjective right – in which case only courts of law and legal tribunals have jurisdiction – an appeal may be submitted to the State Council, in accordance with the procedures outlined below.
Request for cancellation
Cancellation of the decision may be requested by filing a request with the State Council, either:
- electronically to https://eproadmin.raadvst-consetat.be ;
- via a signed and dated registered letter to
Section du Contentieux administratif
Rue de la Science, 33
You must submit your request within 60 calendar days from the date of notification for the disputed decision.
In your request, you must indicate the ‘reasons’ for your appeal, that is, the legal rights that have been infringed by the decision and the way in which they have been infringed.
Request for suspension
Sending a cancellation request does not suspend the effects of the decision.
If an emergency arises which is incompatible with the processing of the case, and if a serious argument is manifestly likely to lead to the cancellation, you may file a request to suspend the decision with the State Council.
The request for suspension may be submitted before, at the same time as, or after sending the request for cancellation.
In exceptional cases, and under specific conditions, you may also request the suspension of the decision in cases of extreme emergency.
Requests for cancellation and suspension requests are only valid if they contain certain annexes and information. Reference is made to the coordinated laws and decrees mentioned below, which are available at http://www.raadvst-consetat.be (‘Procedure’ section).
Each requesting party must pay a fee of €200 (amount as of 9 January 2017), using a transfer form that will be sent to the party after the appeal is received. Payment is not currently subject to any deadline and the payment of the sum may be made at any time before the closure of the dispute.
Find out more: laws on the State Council, coordinated on 12 January 1973, Regent Decree of 23 August 1948 determining the procedure before the administrative disputes department of the State Council, Royal Decree of 5 December 1991 determining interlocutory proceedings before the State Council, which are available at http://www.raadvst-consetat.be (“procedure” section).