QUANTIFYING THE AGRICULTURAL CONTRIBUTION TO EUTROPHICATION
Minutes of the 3rd Management Committee Meeting
at Cordoba, 12 May 1999
1. Adoption of the agenda
The chairman opened the meeting and welcomed the participants. Apologi es were received from Elisabetta Berberis, Emmanuel Frossard, Helena Hartikainen, Goswin Heckrath and Jean-Pierre Destain. It was agreed to discuss MCM support for a research proposal from Switzerland under AOB and the Agenda was approved.
2. Adoption of the Minutes of the 2nd management committee
The Minutes were approved.
3. Election of chairperson and vice chairperson
Paul J.A. Withers (UK) and Wim Chardon (NL) were re-elected as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.
4. Revised Working plan for COST 832 in 1999
The Chairman outlined the large reduction in the budget allocated to COST 832 in 1999. A small number of small organisational meetings, a Management Committee Meeting (MCM) meeting and a joint meeting of Working Groups (WG) 1 and 2 in Cordoba had effectively used up all of the 59,000 ECU allocation. A further 7 WG meetings had been planned for 1999 but these could no longer take place. Working Groups 3 and 4 had not yet had chance to meet to progress the work programme that was agreed in Belfast in June 1998. There was unanimous agreement that this budget restriction would seriously interfere and delay achievement of the objectives of the Action and undermine the enthusiasm of the participants.
A number of possible alternatives to cope with the reduction were put forward by the Chairman and these were discussed at length. There was clearly no easy solution since this is a large Action on an important Pan-European issue and involved many different science disciplines. The work programme had been developed logically and methodically with the agreement of two participants from each country and to curtail either the number of working groups and/or the number of participants was against all the principles of COST. Nevertheless a number of actions were agreed which would try to help this unfortunate situation:
1. It was essential that WG4 should try to meet in 1999. This group was assessing methodology to determine the impacts of diffuse P inputs and their conclusions were fundamental to the success of the whole action. The Chairman agreed to enquire about possible additional funding (15000 ECU) for a WG4 meeting in autumn 1999.
2. In view of the current and likely future restrictions, it was now not possible to meet the objectives of the Action within the original 5-year timescale and an official request to COST to extend the duration of the Action should be considered depending on the outcome of budget allocations in future years. Since the Action officially would finish in June 2002, it was necessary to find out if the Action would still receive a full years allocation in the final year. Any extension should co-incide with an outside conference to boost chances of an extension being granted.
3. Only one MCM meeting would be held each year with only one participant from each country. This MCM meeting would be held in conjunction with a WG meeting to avoid separate travelling costs.
4. The number of WG meetings (but not the number of working groups) would be reduced as much as possible. For example, two separate WG2 meetings on erosion and leaching would be combined into one, and similarly two separate WG4 meetings on fate and bio-availability of diffuse P in water would be combined into one. Other possibilities for WG1 and WG3 would be explored with their respective co-ordinators.
5. To hold one meeting of each WG (together with a supporting small organisational meeting) in the year 2000 in order to maintain the continuity of the work programme. It was too early in the life of the Action for different WGs to meet together in the year 2000. To meet possible budget restrictions, only one member of each COST country could therefore be automatically allowed to participate in each WG meeting and that remaining monies would be pooled to fund outstanding technical contributions from additional COST participants. This scheme would require a COST budget of at least 80-90,000 ECU in 2000. In view of the size and nature of the Action this was not considered unreasonable.
6. The MCM members present agreed to write a letter of protest to their respective national delegates on the COST Senior Committee. The Chairman agreed to check on the date of the next meeting of Senior Officials, circulate a list of national senior delegates and examples of letters he had already written to COST in protest.
7. On behalf of the MCM, the Chairman would write a letter of support to DGXII for Fifth Framework proposals relating to COST 832 to help their chances of success and therefore help offset the budget restrictions.
8. Co-ordinators should continue to find cheap locations for WG meetings with participants using APEX fares and working on Saturdays to reduce expenses claims.
5. Short-term scientific missions
The chairman reported that one short-term mission had been completed in 1998. No further applications had so far been received in 1999. The Chairman urged national delegates to encourage more applications. However, in view of the budget restrictions and lack of applications, it was suggested that funds allocated to Short-Term Missions might be used to support WG meetings. The Chairman agreed to ask the COST Secretariat about this possibility.
6. Place and date of next meeting
It was decided that there should be one MCM meeting in Spring 2000 to be held in conjuction with a WG3 meeting in either Berlin or London.
7. Any other business
Unanimous support from the MCM was given to a research proposal received from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich entitled ‘Remediation of grassland soils excessively fertilised with phosphorus’. The aim of the proposal was to study the interaction between water movement through P-rich soil and the potential for release of soil P into solution, using field studies within a Swiss catchment. Remediation measures to minimise abiotic and biotic soil P transfer would also be investigated. It was agreed that the proposal was highly relevant to the COST Action and the Chairman agreed to write a letter of support for the project. Wim Chardon was interested to link with this proposal and would contact Emmanuel Frossard.
Paul J.A. Withers
Chairman COST 832