As reported by Dan Clery in this week's issue of Science, there is a pending shake-up in the landscape of pan-European research organizations: The European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs) and the European Science Foundation (ESF) are planning a merger.
EUROHORCs' national science funding agencies collectively control about €25 billion per year -- an 85% share of the overall research money available in Europe (the European Union contributes a 5% share). But, as Clery notes, EUROHORCs has no headquarters or staff. On the other hand, ESF, which has an annual budget of €50 million a year, has more than 120 staff members in Strasbourg, France, has been funding research, supporting networks and conferences, and developing science policy for decades.
The two pan-European bodies got to collaborate in response to EU's efforts to develop the European Research Area (ERA), which aims to facilitate the mobility of researchers through the harmonization of career structures and funding systems across Europe. EUROHORCs and ESF together issued a roadmap on how the ERA might be achieved, but they realized their voice would be stronger and clearer if the two bodies merged.
Among the planned changes would be a greater role in science policy development and in joint funding coordination for the new organization -- tentatively called the European Research Organization. ESF would stop distributing money (which came mostly from EUROHORCs members).
You may read the whole article on the Science Web site (subscription required).