COST - European cooperation in Science and Technology - is an intergovernmental European framework for international co-operation between nationally funded research activities. It is the oldest European networking system in research, established in 1971. Currently, it consists of 35 Member Countries and one cooperating state:
Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom. Israel (cooperating state).
Rather than funding research itself, COST brings together research teams in different countries working on specific topics, supporting networking, conferences, short-term scientific exchanges and publications. The coordination activities are supported from the EU RTD Framework Programme.
One of the main characteristics of COST is its flexibility: there are no set areas for co-operation, but scientists themselves put forward proposals for COST Actions (bottom-up principle). Only five member countries need to participate, although in some Actions research teams from three to five times that number are involved ("à la carte" principle).
COST continues to play a substantial role in the development of scientific and technical cooperation in Europe as an important pillar in the European Research Area.