One of the challenges the RESILIENCE consortium was facing in its Design Phase (2019-2021) was the creation of a governance model for the future research infrastructure in operation. In collaboration with all partners, an agreed-upon, tailor-made governance model could be developed.
A robust yet flexible governance structure is vital for the success of a distributed pan-European RI. It shapes the very core of the organization: decision-making processes, allocation of tasks and resources, and the relationships amongst the various stakeholders. Like many research infrastructures on the ESFRI Roadmap, RESILIENCE decided to go for the ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium), a legal form introduced by the EU in 2008 for the relatively new distributed infrastructures on a European level with the purpose to stimulate and simplify the set-up and operation of pan-European RIs. The model of the ERIC fits the specific requirements of complex, research-centered international organizations. It offers a flexible frame for the governance and can be customized to meet the specific demands of the RI.
In order to create the governance model for the RESILIENCE ERIC, we researched the legal requirements, studied models of existing ERICs (especially those in the SSH field), consulted legal affairs experts and sought advice from experienced RI leaders. Most importantly, we involved all partners in the process: from an initial brainstorming on the specific needs of our research community to the creation and refinement of the final governance. The result is an agreed-upon tailor-made governance model for the RESILIENE ERIC, which is effective and efficient and ensures both scalability as well as long-term sustainability.
The minimum governing bodies required by the ERIC regulations are an assembly of members and a director or a board of directors. Characteristic for the ERIC, members are countries (instead of institutions) and the assembly – the ultimate decision-making body – is composed of delegates of the national ministries of the respective members. The directors are appointed by the Assembly and are renowned members of the research community. Besides a research background, proficiency in management, HR, finances and IT are necessary to lead the RI. On the operational level of RESILIENCE, the units, subdivided into working groups and overseen by the Service Coordination Committee, implement the services of the RI. The National Coordinators Committee represents the participating institutions in the member states and offers high-level advice to the Assembly and other governance bodies, having both the history of the consortium and its long-term vision in view. Finally, the Advisory Board is composed of leading international experts from various different fields relevant to the RI.
In the upcoming Preparatory Phase (2022-2025), the RESILIENCE consortium will work towards the registration of the ERIC, which is a long process and requires statutes and other legal documents as well as the support from member countries. We still have a long and exciting path ahead of us!
Sofie Sonnenstatter – IEG Mainz