Since 2017, Thomas Skordas is the Director of DG CONNECT's "Digital Excellence and Science Infrastructure Directorate". He joined the European Commission in 1995 and ever since, worked in various units of DG INFSO (which, in 2012 became DG CONNECT) dealing with ICT research in the context of EU's Research and Innovation Framework Programmes.
Mr Skordas, what is EOSC for you?
At the heart of EOSC, there is data that is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable: without FAIR data, there is no EOSC. However, FAIR data alone is not enough to make Europe excel in data-driven science and research. Data needs to be coupled with data infrastructures that are federated and connected to an adequate computing, storage and service ecosystem. High-speed connectivity will also be needed, to ensure that researchers can work seamlessly across Europe and the globe. Therefore, for me, EOSC is the entire enabling environment that supports excellence of science and research in Europe.
Can you provide a short reflection of the last 2-3 years and how you look at the road ahead of us?
Looking back to 2018, the EOSC Summit and Declaration in Vienna set us on our current course. EOSC was to be built through an iterative process, and a continuous dialogue was needed to build trust and consensus among scientists, researchers, funders, users and service providers.
Now, in 2021, we can say that all the hard work to build that consensus has paid off. Last July the EOSC Association representing the community was established, and a new form of cooperation, the EOSC Partnership, is about to be signed between the European Commission and the Association. A jointly set Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) will guide the EOSC research agenda for the next seven years to come. The Web of FAIR data is firmly at the centre of this agenda, together with the rest of the EOSC ecosystem – computing, services and connectivity.
However, this is no time to rest on our laurels. All the principles and commitments to deliver on all aspects of EOSC need to be made real and tangible. The EU’s new framework programme for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, will be adopted shortly and the first work programmes published in the coming weeks. The full menu of EOSC-related funding opportunities on FAIR data, Horizon Europe missions, EOSC architecture and services waits to be grasped in order to reach all our ambitious goals.
How do you see the role of the Member States and Associate Countries and the National Open Science Cloud initiatives?
Many hands make light work! The Member States and Associated Countries retain, of course, a crucial position in steering EOSC, through their role in the governance of the Partnership. We also need the national initiatives to make EOSC real for each and every European researcher.
Only by joining forces, we will have an EOSC that is greater than just the sum of its parts. In order not to miss this opportunity, I invite the entire Croatian research community to participate in building EOSC in this digital decade.
Croatian version of this interview was published in the bulletin SRCE novosti nr, 84 (PDF, 4 MB).