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last change: March 10, 2020

Developing EOSC

A view on an ongoing process, as per 31 January 2020


The official launch of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) took place during the Austrian EU presidency at the Vienna University Library in November 2018. After extensive co-creation processes and the inclusion of many stakeholders, the Governance is taking shape.

The vision

The goal of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative is to offer European researchers a virtual environment with free, open, and seamless services for the storage, management, analysis and re-use of research publications, data and software that are linked to their research activities across borders and disciplines. The model proposed for EOSC is to federate existing and newly developed research data infrastructures under a common gov­ernance structure.

EOSC launch at the University of Vienna
(© derknopfdruecker.com)

The history: EOSC – Not a cloud made in Brussels

What started, at the European level, with a Council conclusion on open, data-intensive and net­worked research as a driver for faster and wider information in 2015, followed by a Council conclusion on the transition towards an open science system in 2016, supported by the European Par­liament by a resolution on the European Cloud initiative, led into a Council conclusion on EOSC in 2018, and in Novem­ber 2018 finally resulted in the official launch of the EOSC and its governance structure by the acclamation of the Vienna Declaration


The EOSC Governance, 2019–2020

The launch event marked the start of the first phase of an EOSC Governance within the "Horizon 2020" framework programme. Within a period of two years, the involved boards are expected to develop a model and legal framework in consultation with various stakeholders. The work will eventually result in a sustainable partnership model, clear rules of participation and funding schemes. The current tasks include steering the initial implementation, involving relevant stakeholders from research and infrastructures and enabling the transition to the second stage, EOSC post 2020.

Composition of EOSC Governance. Source: Luyben, Karel. EOSC (European Open Science Cloud) as the Enabler of Opening Science. January, 2020. Power Point Presentation.
(© Karel Luyben)

The EOSC Governance Board

The EOSC Governance Board (GB) is an institu­tional group gathering representatives from the Member States and Associated Countries and from the Commission to ensure effective supervision of the EOSC implementation. Formally, it is an EOSC Working Group (WG) of the Programme Com­mittee for the specific programme implementing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014–2020) – strategic configuration. It is tasked with approving the list of the Executive Board members, deciding the strategic orientations for the EOSC (based on the advice of the Executive Board) and approving an annual work plan, assessing the progress of the EOSC implementation, ensuring coordination with relevant Member States/Commission initiatives as well as discussing new activities in support of the EOSC, including its long-term sustainability.

All European Member States and 10 Associated Countries are represented by delegates in the GB. In Austria, the country delegate is Stefan Hanslik from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.

The EOSC Executive Board

The Executive Board (EB) is a body of stakeholder representatives to help ensure proper EOSC implementation and accountability. It consists of representatives from the research and e-infra­struc­tures communities, appointed by the European Commission.

The Executive Board is chaired by Karel Luyben (European Association of Universities of Tech­nology – CESAER) and Cathrin Stöver (GÉANT). All Executive Board members are appointed in a personal capacity and represent pan-European organisations of relevance for the EOSC implementation, for example large pan-European re­search infrastructures, e-Infrastructures, public research organisations, universities, public research funding organisations and industry organisations.

The EOSC Working Groups

Five EOSC Working Groups form an official part of the EOSC Governance structure to ensure a community-sourced approach to the current challenges of the EOSC. The Working Groups include experts from 22 of the EU Member States and Associated Countries and currently work on the following topics:

Three more Working Groups are proposed and under preparation. These are:

  • Communications Task Force (run by EB/EC/Secretariat, tasked with branding, trademark and communications),
  • Skills Development WG (proposed to run in 2020) and
  • International WG (proposed to run in 2020).

With the support of the Working Groups, a first EOSC iteration is envisioned by the end of 2020:

  • Agreed and tested Rules of Participation (Rules of Participation)
  • Analysis of the existing national infra and policies (Landscape)
  • Financing model, legal entity & post 2020 governance (Sustainability)
  • Functioning federated core (Architecture)
  • Initial set of EOSC data and services (Architecture)
  • EOSC Interoperability Framework (FAIR, Architecture & Rules of Participation)
  • Persistent Identifier policy (FAIR & Architecture)
  • Metrics for FAIR data and certified services (FAIR)

The H2020 Project "EOSC Secretariat"

The H2020 project EOSCsecretariat.eu is de­livering 360° support to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Governance. Specifically, it addresses the need for the set-up of an operational framework supporting the overall Governance of the EOSC.

(Note: EOSCsecretariat.eu has received funding from the European Union's Horizon Programme call H2020-INFRAEOSC-2018-4, grant Agreement number 831644.)


EOSC explained in few words

EOSC is not a new infrastructure. It is rather a process of making publications, research data and software in Europe accessible to all researchers under the same conditions. Also, it does not start from scratch. It will be built upon existing infrastructures. A lot of investments were already made within the Horizon Europe framework programme. There are good examples of disciplinary research data infrastructures offering research data repositories and services.

The five so called "EOSC cluster projects" (ENVRI-FAIR, EOSC Life, ESCAPE, PaNOSC, and SSHOC) represent infrastructures for the environmental sciences, life sciences, high-energy physics and astronomy, photon and neutron sources, and social sciences and humanities. These projects are disciplinarily focused, EOSC, however, will also foster interdisciplinary and interoperability.

EOSC is not a new dedicated infrastructure or software package

  • It is a process of making research data in Eu­rope accessible to all researchers under the same conditions of use and usage.
  • It gives a strong push in Europe towards a culture of open research data that are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR).
  • It links the existing European data infra­struc­tures, integrating high-capacity cloud solutions, and in due course, will widen the scope of these services to include users from the public sector and industry.
  • Efforts are particularly directed on Data Culture, Research Data Services, Federated Architecture and co-Funding.

(see also PDF Architectures of Knowledge: The European Open Science Cloud)

How can we imagine the functioning of EOSC?

Since we write this article for the Austrian NREN ACOnet, we would like to use a metaphor, aligned to one of the main and successful services provided for researchers: eduroam. This service is well-known, ubiquitous, transparent, free at point of use, is extremely useful, has rules of participation, has system architecture including security, provides a specific (micro-)service, deals with user data and has a governance.


EOSC 2020+: An outlook

In a first phase, EOSC will focus on the deployment of services based on FAIR and open data. Possible "core functions" are at current status defined as follows:

  • Develop and govern a federating core
  • Manage compliance framework
  • Manage trusted certification
  • Authentication and authorisation services for allowing access by users. These rules and services have to comply with the EOSC AAI (Authentication & Authorisation Infrastructure) standards.
  • Metadata services to allow for discovery
  • Manage "EOSC" trademark(s)
  • Manage Persistent Identifier (PID) services com­plying with the EOSC PID policy de­velopment
  • Outreach to stakeholders
  • Contribute to Horizon EU policy
  • Monitor services and transactions

EOSC building processes – The Austrian involvement

Currently several Austrian representatives are directly involved in initiatives intended to shape the EOSC. The most relevant are:

TU Wien is actively involved in the H2020 Project EOSC Secretariat. Main tasks are the monitoring of the co-creation processes (WP2)** and the Stakeholders Engagement activities within WP3. Focus is the so called "researchers engagement" which comprises not only the researchers but also universities, university associations and funding bodies. TU Wien is represented in the project through a collaboration within the Faculty of Informatics, the Center for Research Data Management and TU Wien Bibliothek.

(**Note: EOSCsecretariat.eu retains a high degree of flexibility in its roll-out plan by adopting a co-creation approach and providing budget for all upcoming, foreseen and unforeseen, activities and actions related to the work of the EOSC Secretariat to support the EOSC Governance.)

University of Vienna – H2020 Project EOSC Pillar: AUS­S­DA (Austrian Social Science Data Archive), based at Vienna University Library / University of Vienna, is partner in this project. Due to mutual agreements, there are some close links between ac­tivities of Vienna University Library and TU Wien Bibliothek in the fulfillment of some tasks in WP3 of EOSC Pillar. EOSC Pillar coordinates national open science efforts across Austria, Belgium, Germany, France and Italy, and ensures their con­tribution and readiness for the implementation of the EOSC. The project partners are from the fol­lowing EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Germany, France and Italy.

Project SSHOC: Austrian partner is the Austrian Social Science Data Archive (AUSSDA) based at Vienna University Library / University of Vienna. The project SSHOC aims to provide a full-fled­ged Social Sciences and Humanities Open Cloud (SSHOC) where data, tools, and training are avail­able and accessible for users of SSH data.

EOSC Café: The EOSC Café is coordinated by the BMBWF and was created in the function of an Austrian platform for the exchange of information. It consists of representatives of the Austrian Federal Ministries responsible for science, research and innovation as well as digitalization, various stakeholders from Austrian universities, research infrastructures and funding agencies and of course the Austrian representatives of the EOSC Governance Board, Executive Board, the EOSC Secretariat and the Research Data Alliance (RDA-Austria). The dedicated aim of this group is to communicate and discuss the ongoing process of EOSC implementation by fostering the active participation of Aus­trian researchers and institutions.

WGs Landscape and Sustainability

The "Landscape Analysis" Working Group has the task of providing options allowing a progressive EOSC convergence and alignment of structures and initiatives in Europe including national re­search infrastructures and e-infrastructures, national open science policies, ESFRI RIs and cluster projects, thematic initiatives and clouds, EOSC-rel­evant H2020 projects and international Work­ing Groups (such as RDA, etc.). TU Wien Bibliothek participates in the Landscaping activities.

The EOSC Sustainability Working Group provides a set of recommendations concerning the implementation of an operational, scalable and sustainable EOSC federation after 2020, which will be gradually opening up its user base to the public sector and industry. The Working Group examines core aspects related to the business model of EOSC, its governance structure and propose options for the best-fit legal entity to be put in place after 2020. TU Wien Bibliothek participates in the Sustainability WG activities.

The results of both Working Groups are expected to be openly available within 2020.

Videos produced by the EOSC Secretariat/TU Wien:

Further steps in QI/QII 2020

Besides the regular meetings of GB, EB, Working Groups, as well as EOSC Secretariat activities (Steering Group and Co-creation activities), several events are scheduled for February/March 2020:

  • Workshop/Discussion with the members of the Science Europe Working Group on Data Shar­ing Supporting Infrastructures (WG DSSI).
  • Elaboration and release of the findings of a workshop with young European researchers held in Feldkirch, Austria in January 2020. This workshop was about "collecting" needs, re­quirements and visions on future research environments.
  • Elaboration and release of the findings of a workshop with European Unversities Networks and Associations, held in Brussels in January 2020 (Title: "University Networks shaping EOSC").
  • Validation Workshop, organised by the EOSC Landscape Working Group in collaboration with the EOSC Secretariat project: The goal of the event is to discuss and validate the Land­scape Analysis Report’s first draft with experts from GB, EB as well as INFRAEOSC-5B pro­jects, ESFRI research infrastructures, and the other EOSC EB Working Groups.

All announcements are published at: https://www.eoscsecretariat.eu/news-events-opinion/events


About the authors

Paolo Budroni

paolo.budroni(at)tuwien.ac.at

Paolo Budroni is member of permanent staff of the University of Vienna (since 1991), and currently on a long-term sabbatical. Since September 2019 he is member of staff of TU Wien Library, and is in charge of International Projects. Paolo Budroni is E-IRG Chair and is participating in these EOSC Building initiatives: EOSC-Secretariat, EOSC Pillar, Working Group Land­scape Analysis and Working Group Sustainability. He is Co-Author of the "Vienna Declaration on the EOSC".

Stefan Hanslik

stefan.hanslik(at)bmbwf.gv.at

Austrian Member of the EOSC Governing Board, Co­ordinator of the EOSC Café, Austrian E-IRG Delegate, Co-Author of the "Vienna Declaration on the EOSC"

Barbara Sánchez Solís

barbara.sanchez(at)tuwien.ac.at

Barbara Sánchez Solís, Head of the Center for Research Data Management at TU Wien, is member of the EOSC Secretariat and of the EOSC Secretariat Steering Group. She coordinates co-creation activities with­in WP2 and participates in Stakeholder Engagement.