New perspectives from EOSC Regional projects

Nick Ferguson's picture
19 May 2020

New perspectives from EOSC Regional projects

  • By Nick Ferguson

The federated nature of the EOSC means that collaboration across Europe is vital. With so many Member States (MS) and Associated Countries (AC), understanding the needs of the various EOSC stakeholders is vital. Policy makers, funders, researchers, and service providers all need to be singing from the same song sheet if EOSC is to bring value to researchers in all corners of Europe. Recognising this, the EC funded a number of “regional” EOSC projects to support coordination, convergence and federation of EOSC-relevant national and thematic initiatives and to support alignment of policies and practices of EOSC. Since starting in 2019, these projects have recognised the importance of working collaborating and formed a series of task forces focusing on strategic priorities of the EOSC. With EOSC-Hub week upon us the projects have published a collection of position papers with the support of the Communications and Events Task Force and the EOSCsecretariat.eu

The papers from EOSC-Nordic, EOSC-Pillar, EOSC-Synergy, NI4OS and ExPaNDS provide an interesting collection of perspectives on the EOSC covering their expectations of and contributions to the EOSC, as well as recommendations and key messages for the governance.

With so many EOSC-related projects and stakeholders to reach, it’s always good to get a bird’s eye view of what is going on. One of the main contributions of all regional projects is to support coordination, harmonisation and alignment of national open science policies and practices related to research data services with EOSC. The promotion of FAIR data principles is one of the key aspects of this process, and is at the centre of all InfraEOSC-5b initiatives.

So as to have a clearer overview of the current landscape on issues related to open science and FAIR principles, the projects have carried out or are carrying out surveys on the state of national initiatives in each region that they cover. In addition, the projects play a key role in communicating the value of EOSC and ensuring that it can be used by capacity building and direct engagement of regional open science circles. In doing this, they play a vital role ensuring that researchers across Europe can have access to a broader selection of resources and cross disciplinary data that the EOSC will eventually deliver.

With the publication by the EOSC Executive Board of the EOSC interoperability framework which is now open for comment, the projects also focus on the definition of the EOSC standard interfaces, evaluating their adoption locally in order to maximise interoperability between EOSC services and those offered by national RIs. Standardisation and certification are therefore also essential priority areas for collaboration and the projects will also cooperate on the federation of existing data catalogues and services.

The position papers also stress that national initiatives are one of the key elements for the creation of an inclusive and sustainable EOSC with the involvement and long-term commitment of Member States and Associated Countries. Indeed, as presented at the EOSC Consultation day, the Executive Board recognize this and their key strategic role in the governance structure of the EOSC.

Finally, the papers identify a number of critical issues that the EOSC governance should address such as national open science policies, and the delivery of horizontal services and access to resources in a transnational environment. A topic brought up at the Sustainability session at the EOSC Consultation day was also the need to address legal challenges associated with the cross-border sharing of resources. This is vital to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the coordination, in terms of budget and governance.

As with any EU-wide venture, alignment and agreement across Member States is essential. The various positions from the projects highlight just how important it is for EOSC to leverage the specificities and strengths of national initiatives. It is key that they play a leading role in turning the EOSC vision into a reality. This should be reflected in the design of the EOSC legal entity and its governance, but also in the mechanisms that ensure the functioning of EOSC as a federation.