Launching the implementation phase of EOSC

The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is an environment for hosting and processing research data to support EU science across disciplines. The EOSC creation process was initiated by the European Commission already in 2015. The aim is to develop a trusted, virtual, federated environment to store, share, process and re-use digital research data respecting FAIR principles. Data sharing and reuse can lead new insights and innovations, higher research efficiency and productivity, and not the least to improved reproducibility in science.

The implementation roadmap is planned in two phases. In the initial phase until 2020, the projects supported by the Commission started shape the EOSC.  A multi-layered, interim governance structure was established in November 2018 to steer and oversee the implementation of the EOSC during the first two years period. The EOSC Governance Board (GB), representatives from EU countries, supported the effective supervision of the EOSC implementation. The EOSC Executive Board (EB), stakeholder representatives from the research and e-infrastructures communities, provides advice and support on the strategy, implementation, monitoring and reporting on the progress of the EOSC implementation. EOSC Working Groups, as an official part of the EOSC Governance structure, ensure strong community-sourced approach to the current challenges of the EOSC. Within the EB tasks, the Landscape Working Group provided a view on the initiatives and policies, including existing infrastructures, which are candidates to become part of the EOSC federation.

Results of Landscaping

WG Landscape chaired by Jan Hrusak summarized its surveys in two reports. The Landscape of EOSC-related infrastructures and initiativesdescribed the landscape of infrastructures, projects, initiatives and policies across Europe relevant to the development of EOSC. Furthermore, it describes EOSC related activities in the Member States (MS) and Associated Countries (AC) and the existing policies and investments based on input from these countries, from Horizon 2020 projects, based on contributions from the Working Group and the EOSC Governing Board members, and on open sources.

The follow-up report “Country sheets analysis goes several steps further. It provides an assessment of currently available data on infrastructures and related policies needed to enable the EOSC vision in terms of readiness of EOSC adoption at country and institutional level. It reflects the rapid development in the EOSC and delves deeper into the country data, complementing the work being carried out by the INFRAEOSC-5B Projects, which are assessing the landscape at the local level. Country questionnaire sheets were completed for 47 EU MS, AC, and other countries. The information gathered were used for both reports, which are available through the EC Bookstore.

From the vision to action

As we are approaching the end 2020, the initial phase of EOSC development (2016-2020) comes to its end and will be followed by the implementation phase (2021-2027). The mandate of the EOSC Governing structure expires by the end of the year and the governance is handed over to the stakeholders represented by a newly created legal entity.

Among many documents created by the EOSC EB crucial role belongs to The EOSC Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). It defines the general framework for EOSC implementation, the future strategic research, development and innovation activities in relation to the EOSC. This will be further defined in the context of the creation of the EOSC European Partnership proposed under the Horizon Europe Program. The full SRIA document is expected to be published in January 2021.

The new EOSC governance structure will be based on a European Partnership Agreement for EOSC under Horizon Europe. The current Governing structure together with the EC works on consolidation of the Partnership Proposal document for EOSC. The EOSC candidate partnership requires the existence of a legal entity to enter a contractual arrangement with the EC.

In July 2020, an EOSC Association was set up to provide a single voice for advocacy and to represent the broader EOSC stakeholder community. The legal entity was incorporated in Belgium in the form of an international not-for-profit association – AISBL (L’association internationale sans but lucratif) with the legal personality being granted by royal decree. Initial members and observers were nominated by the EOSC GB and EB and already admitted to the Association. The first General Assembly of the EOSC Association is held in December 2020. The EOSC Association will be flexible and should be able to grow as required. The membership to the EOSC Association remains open. Initial members will have no greater rights than other members once the association is constituted. The maintenance and update of the SRIA will be handed over to the EOSC Association at the end of the year.