The NREN community is active in many aspects of the EOSC – projects such as NI4OS, DICE, RELIANCE, OCRE and EOSC Future – as well as national Open Science fora, and EOSC governance via membership of the Steering Board and the EOSC Association.
Earlier this week saw the first face-to-face EOSC Association General Assembly in Brussels, and the NREN community was out in force. 20 NRENs plus GÉANT are Members of the EOSC Association and 3 are Observers. 11 of these NRENs have been appointed as Mandated Organisations to represent national interests. This is a significant proportion given that there are only 25 Mandated Organisations in total, reflecting a recognition of their role as national service providers and representation of community interests.
Day 1 of the General Assembly covered a number of formalities including admitting new Members and Observers, voting on Statute changes and discharging the annual accounts. There were also presentations on the work of the Association and Board by the President Karel Luyben, as well as an update on the Multi-Annual Roadmap and the grand unveiling of the new EOSC logo. Joe Parker Rees, the third-year design student from Leeds Arts University who won the logo competition described his entry as such:
“The logo I designed for EOSC embraces the circular forms of the lowercase ‘eosc’ abbreviation, as well as the curved spine of the ‘s’ letterform. The notion of data visualization is subtly referenced with the motif of a pie chart. Flow and movement are evoked, combining logo with typography in a fluid rhythm.”
There was also a fantastic presentation by Ludek Matyska from CESNET on the role of the Mandated Organisations. This has been quite a conflicted concept as it was added to the Statutes late in the day to allow Member States to have some representation, since not all Ministries were legally permitted to be a Member. When we discussed the role of Mandated Organisations in the January 2022 EOSC Coordination meeting, it was clear that none had been given a clear remit or set of activities. Most have worked very proactively though, and established mechanisms to solicit viewpoints from stakeholders in the country to represent the national interest. Ludek presented the Charter which Mandated Organisations have collectively put together. This highlights their bidirectional role to coordinate inputs from their countries / constituencies and act as a bridge between the national ecosystem and the EOSC Association. There was a strong desire to avoid simply being a special chamber with a veto power, and to ensure the role of Mandated Organisations adds value and offers something constructive.
Following the meeting there was a drinks and dinner reception at the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences. This was intended to give delegates the opportunity to browse the collections while eating and networking, but Ute clearly had her prayer to Saint Peter answered and we were blessed with sunshine so most people stayed outside all evening. It was a good opportunity for members to get to know one another and for the NRENs to network, since many come from different backgrounds and areas of the organisations so had not already all connected via GÉANT events.
Day 2 of the event saw an overview of the thirteen EOSC Association Task Forces. GÉANT and the NRENs are also well represented here too. 5 of the 29 co-chair and 50 of the members come from the NREN community. Similarly, the NREN community is represented in 12 of the 13 Task Forces (all except Data Stewardship), with higher levels of participation in those that are significant to NREN activities, in particular AAI and Financial Sustainability. Good progress is being made and the community seemed impressed at what can be achieved with volunteer effort.
The final session of the event explained the forthcoming EOSC Focus project. This is a Coordination and Support Action, led by the EOSC Association. Two NRENs (CSC and Belnet) are participating in the forthcoming consortium and will lead activities on the SRIA & technical development and the communication, dissemination and stakeholder engagement respectively. The project formally kicks off at the end of June in Vienna.
From a personal perspective, I found it really useful to get to meet so many NRENs in person at the GA meeting. Many of those in attendance were people I’ve known for years from my work in libraries, data centres and Open Science, and it was lovely to be able to meet NRENs and help them connect more in this world. It’s heartening to see the increasing involvement in EOSC and I look forward to helping that develop further.
 Mandated Organisations are ARNES, ACONET, Belnet, CESNET, DEIC, GARR, FCT (FCCN), HEAnet, KIFÜ, RASH, SRCE / CARNET. Ordinary members are. CSC, DFN, GRNET, PSNC, RENATER, Sikt, SURF, SWITCH and ULAKBIM. Observers are ASREN, Jisc and NORDUnet.
 The EOSC Association Task Force co-chairs from our community are Helen Clare of Jisc in the Upskilling Countries to Engage in EOSC Task Force, Christos Kanellopoulos of GÉANT in the AAI Task Force, Jan Meijer of Sikt in the Financial Sustainability Task Force, Themis Zamani of GRNET in the PID Policy and Implementation Task Force and Raimundas Tuminauskas of PSNC in the Rules of Participation Compliance Monitoring Task Force.