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Re-admit the UK into hosting European COST research and innovation networking grants

Re-admit the UK into hosting European COST research and innovation networking grants

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This petition has been created by Stefan B. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Stefan B.
started this petition to
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Association, Brussels
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology - www.cost.eu) is the only pan-European funding agency specifically dedicated to supporting large-scale bottom-up research and innovation networking across Europe and beyond.

The COST Association recently sent a letter to COST's numerous grant holders in the United Kingdom, asking them to move their grants to other COST member counties in response to the perceived threat of a no-deal Brexit on the 31st of October 2019. This effectively means that organizations in the UK can no longer hold COST grants.

COST members include all European Union member states as well as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Israel, Montenegro, Moldova, Norway, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. As a result of the COST Association’s request, all of these countries would be able to host COST grants, but the UK would not.

We ask the COST Association to re-think its decision for the following reasons:

- To the best of our knowledge, COST is the only European funding agency that has acted punitively towards the UK in anticipation of a hypothetical Brexit scenario. This sends the wrong signal to the European scientific community. Many scientists and citizens across the UK and Europe are doing their best to maintain the UK’s pivotal role in the European research ecosystem in the context of Brexit. This pre-emptive and radical decision will serve to hinder and frustrate their efforts.

- The decision has been justified on the basis of a no-deal Brexit possibly happening in the course of the next COST grant period starting from the 1st of May 2019. However, a no-deal Brexit could have equally happened in the course of the current grant period, and no such request was ever made or event hinted at previously. What is more, the decision will curtail the UK’s current rights as a full COST member.

- COST Actions and UK grant holders have been given only a matter of weeks to move grants, during a month with two consecutive Easter breaks (depending on religious affiliation) across most of Europe. On the 3rd of April 2019, UK COST grant holders were reassured by the UK government that they would guarantee COST funding. This has shortened the time for contingency planning even further.

- Moving grants will come at a great price for UK COST grant holders, who have invested significant resources in training staff and ensuring that the proper administrative support is in place at each institution. This will now be entirely lost and there will be real job cuts due to the discontinuation of administrative support contracts. It will also be highly demanding for any new grant holders, who will only have a few weeks to take on a potentially new role.

Dear COST Association, dear Dr Primoz Pristovsek (Head of COST Science Operations), dear Mr Adrien Routelous (Head of COST Science Administration and Finance) please consider reversing your decision and enabling the full participation of UK researchers and organizations in COST.

Yours faithfully,
The undersigned

Posted: 16 April 2019 (Updated: 2 May 2019)