The goal of COST is to ensure that Europe holds a strong position in the field of scientific and technical research for peaceful purposes, by increasing European co-operation and interaction in this field.
COST has clearly shown its strength in non-competitive research, in pre-normative co-operation and in solving environmental and cross-border problems and problems of public utility. It has been successfully used to maximise European synergy and added value in research co-operation and it is a useful tool to further European integration, in particular concerning Central and Eastern European countries. Ease of access for institutions from non-member countries also makes COST a very interesting and successful tool for tackling topics of a truly global nature.
To emphasize that the initiative came from the scientists and technical experts themselves and from those with a direct interest in furthering international collaboration, the founding fathers of COST opted for a flexible and pragmatic approach. COST activities have in the past paved the way for Community activities and its flexibility allows COST Actions to be used as a testing and exploratory field for emerging topics.
The member countries participate on an "à la carte" principle and activities are launched on a "bottom-up" approach. One of its main features is its built-in flexibility. This concept clearly meets a growing demand and in addition, it complements the European Community programmes.
COST has a geographical scope beyond the EU and most of the Central and Eastern European countries are members. COST also welcomes the participation of interested institutions from non-COST member states without any geographical restriction.
COST has developed into one of the largest frameworks for research co-operation in Europe and is a valuable mechanism co-ordinating national research activities in Europe. Today it has almost 200 Actions and involves nearly 30,000 scientists from 34 European member countries and more than 80 participating institutions from 11 non-member countries and Non Governmental Organisations.
In total, institutions from 46 countries participate in COST under different forms:
34 member states:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Serbia and Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
1 Co-operating State*: Israel
11 States with participating Institutions:
COST has a geographical scope beyond the EU. Institutions from non-COST countries may join COST Actions. In 2003, there were institutions from the following countries: Algeria (1), Argentina (1), Australia (4), Canada (18), China (Macao) (2), Eritrea (1), India (1), Japan (4), Russia (15), Ukraine (8), USA (16) and also 7 participating Non Governmental Organisations (NGO).
Scientific and Technological Domains:
COST covers a wide range of scientific and technological domains:
Agriculture and Biotechnology
Forests and Forestry Products
Medicine and Health
Sciences and Humanities
Telecommunications Information science and technology
Urban Civil Engineering