How ESFRI works

The ESFRI is a self-regulated body, which operates openly and on a consensus basis. ESFRI Delegates are senior science-policy officials or equivalents, who represent ministers responsible for research in their country. A senior science-policy official represents the European Commission. The ESFRI Chair is appointed from among the ESFRI delegates, for a two-year non-renewable term. The ESFRI Executive Board assists the chair in planning ESFRI activities. This board is composed of the ESFRI Chair, the EC representative and of ESFRI Delegates selected by consensus.

The ESFRI Secretariat is provided by the European Commission. The secretariat's role is to assist the forum's operation. In particular, the secretariat assists the chair and executive board to prepare and circulate draft agendas, meeting summaries and related documents. The forum typically meets four times a year and adheres to a set of procedural guidelines, reviewed every two years. The forum may set up ad hoc working groups to analyse and report on topical issues.

By regularly carrying out analysis of RI landscapes in several reference scientific domains, in addition to e-infrastructures ESFRI captures and describes the key RI defining the entire landscape, identifies gaps and enables stakeholders at institutional, regional, national, European and global level to position their RI initiatives within a broader context and identifies synergies and complementarities with existing RI to refine their strategic priority setting.

ESFRI organises open calls for proposals, selects proposals based on strict eligibility criteria and reviews them in a clear and transparent manner through independent, international peer review thus contributing to a balance within the ERA between the bottom-up design of RI and the subsequent strategic top-down prioritisation of a limited portfolio of pan-European RI. ESFRI reports directly to the Council where the ministers have acknowledged ESFRI`s role and value.

ESFRI has developed and applies distinct and transparent evaluation, assessment, monitoring and periodic review mechanisms based on two independent processes, i.e. 1) the evaluation of the scientific case through the Strategy Workings Groups (SWG) and 2) the assessment of implementation through the Implementation Group (IG) – both processes being conducted in close cooperation with experts from the e-Infrastructure Reflections Group (e-IRG). In both cases, international and independent Reviewers are involved to provide advice, but ESFRI is solely and entirely responsible of the evaluation and assessment procedures and outcomes.

In addition to ESFRI, several European fora contribute to the discussion on RIs, such as the e-Infrastructure Reflection Group (e-IRG), EIROforum — the Association of European-Level Research Infrastructure Facilities (ERF). At international level there is the Group of Senior Officials on Global Research Infrastructures (GSO) and the Global Science Forum (GSF).