ERCIM New Members Policy
by Keith Jeffery
In the earliest days of ERCIM there were two, then three, then four members. The method for a new member to join ERCIM was informal until the point of official signature at which point legal formalism was required, associated with the payment of the subscription.
Subsequently more formalism has been applied. Firstly, it was agreed that membership was limited to one institution per country, and that the institution should be accepted as representing both academic and commercial communities in that country. This implied that an institution requesting to join ERCIM was required to demonstrate that it fulfilled these conditions.
The Directors agreed to the Executive Committee nominating one person as responsible for the policy and induction of new members; in practice a small task force was formed to handle bringing new members into ERCIM. A questionnaire was prepared to ensure that any institution wishing to join ERCIM, by completing the questionnaire, understood the conditions and fulfilled them. The task force visited the applicant institution to discuss any problems and to ensure that both ERCIM and the applicant institution knew each other and the costs and benefits of joining ERCIM. In the recent past, the applicant countries have formed a small consortium of institutions to ensure adequate representation of subject areas and research groups. Such small consortia have a central point of contact and a legal existence which allows them to join ERCIM as if they were a single institution.
The policy of the Directors has been followed and the rate of bringing in new members stabilised at approximately two per year. The latest policy from the Directors is to accept new members only when there is pressure from the applicant - ie not to solicit proposals from countries not yet represented in ERCIM. The current state of representation is:
- all EU countries are represented except Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Spain
- EU-associated countries including Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. (Norway and Switzerland are ERCIM members)
- Central-East Europe countries are represented by Hungary and Czech Republic
- Former Soviet Union states are not represented.
The Directors decided against allowing associate membership for non-European country-representing institutions that request membership.
The most recent members are Denmark (November 1996) and Czech Republic (May 1996). Discussions are underway with Ireland, Austria, Slovakia and Poland. There has been interest from Belgium and from non-European countries.
The rather rapid growth of ERCIM has changed the emphasis from a tightly-knit small group of institutions acting as a single entity towards the EU (through the ERCIM-EEIG, European Economic Interest Grouping) to a community of institutions which search for cooperative R&D initiatives among subsets (typically two or three) of them. The cohesion is maintained by the Directors meetings (2 per year), the Executive Committee Meetings (4 per year) and the Working Groups who hold technical workshops and have, or try to obtain, funding for their activities.
Keith Jeffery - CLRC
Tel: +44 235 44 6103