By: Cathrin Stöver, EOSC Executive Board Co-chair
As a follow up from the recent EOSC Consultation Day (see here for the recordings: https://www.eosc-hub.eu/eosc-hub-week-2020/agenda), as well as discussions we had in the EOSC Governing and Executive Boards, I would like to take the opportunity of this blog to write a few words on the establishment of the EOSC legal entity and the steps we are now taking. Let’s start with the background:
- EOSC is one of the about 50 proposed European Partnerships under Horizon Europe.
- The current EOSC governance, consisting of the EOSC Executive and Governance Boards (EB and GB) have worked with the EC DG RTD and DG CNECT towards the consolidation of a stable version of the EOSC Partnership Proposal document. This version has been published as a living document by the Commission already alongside all other partnership candidate proposals.1 These proposals are now being taken into the next step of preparation which includes the gathering of potential commitments by relevant, interested stakeholders.
- Conceived as a co-programmed European partnership, the EOSC candidate partnership requires the existence of a legal entity to enter into a contractual arrangement with the EC.
The mandate of the current EOSC governance will come to an end on 31 December 2020. We are therefore working with the EOSC EB Working Group (WG) on Sustainability and its Task Force (TF) on the Legal Entity towards the establishment of the EOSC legal entity before the end of this year. The legal entity will be incorporated in Belgium in the form of an international not-for-profit association (AISBL – Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif) with the legal personality being granted by royal decree. This process of incorporation can take 4 to 6 months, depending on the Ministry of Justice granting the royal decree.
“Candidate” initial members to this new legal entity for EOSC were nominated by the EOSC GB and EB and are supporting the TF Legal Entity in preparing the draft Statutes of the EOSC Association. So far, there is agreement to the following basic principles:
- Statutes will contain the minimum elements required legally for the setting up of the EOSC Association.
- All finer details will be set up in the bylaws.
- The EOSC Association will be flexible and should be able to grow as required. Initial members will have no greater rights than other members once the association is constituted.
The EB, GB and the EC have discussed the three points above in great detail and we all recognise that they are essential for the community for understanding how the procedure works in this initial stage when the Association is being set up. It is clear to all involved in the process at this moment, that we have to be fast in setting up the EOSC Association, as it can take up to 6 months. To be efficient but also ensure inclusiveness in the process of setting up and joining the Association we have agreed that the Statutes will only cover the minimum required legally for the setting up of the EOSC Association. We have also agreed that there should only be four initial members, ie organisations who will sign at the notary to register the EOSC Association, and that the first set of bylaws will deal with the onboarding process to allow immediate onboarding of the members as soon as it starts it operations.
The aim is that interested organisations will be able to join the Association as soon as possible after it is constituted. We believe that this procedure will allow the fast setting up of the EOSC Association, while ensuring the inclusiveness that the EOSC community requires. To further support this fast track process we invite organisations to register their interest in joining the EOSC Association at an early stage via the following link: https://www.eoscsecretariat.eu/indication-interest-becoming-member-organisation-eosc-aisbl
The EOSC GB will be discussing the draft Statutes in its next meeting, which is foreseen to take place on 1 July 2020 with the EOSC Association registered after this date. We appreciate that the timelines are still a little vague and we will communicate with updates regularly. Many thanks for reading!