From 14 to 17 November, the EOSC Symposium took place in Prague. This is the annual event that a great many stakeholders from ministries, policy-makers, research organisations, infrastructures and communities from all over Europe and beyond attend. It reflects upon the main achievements and strategic challenges of the EOSC (European Open Science Cloud), and identifies priorities and concrete actions at European, national and institutional levels to accelerate the implementation of the EOSC.
Within the EOSC ecosystem, work is being done both on technical solutions to make FAIR data available and preserved within the research community in a standardised and harmonised manner, an effective cloud solution, and also on general awareness and promotion of Open Science in Europe. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Exchangeable and Reusable data.
Role of Belnet within the EOSC
As the Belgian mandated organisation for the EOSC, Belnet aims to promote Open Science and the use of FAIR data in the Belgian research community. Consider the tool Orfeo, the Open Science platform with nearly 8,000 publications on scientific research funded by Belspo (the Federal Science Policy Office).
DMPonline.be, the data management tool for creating a data management plan (DMP), is another example. The data management plan describes the type of data, how sensitive it is (e.g. personal data), and how and where it will be stored.
Among other crucial tools for Open Science are Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructures (AAI), which Belnet offers in the form of the Belnet R&E Federation, which allows researchers and research institutions to define who can access which data repository and with what permissions.
Belnet, of course, was also represented at the EOSC Symposium. Our colleagues are participating in the EOSC Focus project, which provides support to the EOSC Association in further rolling out the digital transformation to Open Science in Europe. Belnet is active in three work packages:
- Stakeholder Management
- Contribute to the strategic research and innovation agenda
- Communications and event organisation.
National Tripartite Event of the Czech Republic
Day one and two also saw the National Tripartite Event of the Czech Republic, the country currently holding the European presidency. This event is a collaboration between the European Commission, the EOSC-A (EOSC Association) and the representatives of the Member States, including the country's mandated organisation. A National Tripartite Event aims to foster dialogue between the relevant ministries, research agencies, funding institutions and the broader EOSC research community. We will also be organising a similar event in Belgium.
Goals and current challenges of the EOSC
Several topics were discussed during the Symposium. High on the agenda are the three priorities of the EOSC Steering Board – composed of Member State representatives: EOSC and data literacy, EOSC and commercial partners, and finally promoting FAIR data as a common good. Moreover, there is also a pronounced interest in using various projects (e.g. Skills4EOSC) to train and develop researchers in the field of Open Science, as well as making the necessary tools available to do so.
There are also still a great many challenges facing the EOSC: legal aspects in particular, such as GDPR and compliance with European regulations are a challenge here on the one hand, as well as an opportunity to set an example on the other. This makes the EOSC is the best guarantee of long-term sustainability. The many levels of policy and different structures within different countries also make it difficult to develop a single strategic vision. Hence, on the one hand, some bottom-up work is being done to help shape the EU work programme and thus the EU-funded projects through the strategic agenda, and on the other, the EOSC-A was established last year to coordinate it all.
During the four-day event, there was always time for networking during the coffee breaks, encouraged by the presence of exhibition booths from both data and service providers, project managers of EOSC projects and members of research communities.
Collaboration: key to success
The message at the event was clear: research institutions, researchers and the entire EOSC ecosystem, including the EOSC-related projects from HORIZON2020 and INFRAEOSC and the EOSC-A, with support from the European Commission, must continue to work together to find solutions and synergies for supporting researchers in the field of Open Science.
In short, only by working together and exchanging information and experiences in a regular and structured manner can we arrive at a shared Open Science vision and solutions that advance the research community in the long term.
About the author
Freya Goeminne studied Language and Literature: Dutch-German and Multilingual Business Communication at Ghent University. At Belnet, she handles internal communications, change communications and the organisation of training. Since May 2022, she has also been participating in the EOSC Focus project through Belnet as Project Officer for Communications and Events.