1 - Steps to take to join the LE

Step one – Getting your institution to sign the Statutory Documents

  1. In the OpenAIRE box folder you can find the statutes
  2. Along with these are a covering letter and slides (long version, short version) to help you address the LE
  3. Present a copy of these to your decision maker

Step two – Once you get approval or interest

Email Prodromos asap with the following information:

  • Name and position of the person who will be signing the documents
  • Full name of the organisation

Prodromos can guide you through the process. It doesn’t mean you sign immediately, rather that he can plan how many partners are interested and will sign up.

At the moment the LE document has to be signed and the documents sent by post to the next signatory/institution. Pro is working to change this restriction so multiple parties can sign at once.

Step three – Get signed up at the next signing which is 04.12.18

The paperwork will be prepared in Athens and sent to your institution before the signing date. So from 04.12.18 there will be the same document sent to all the interested parties by post.

Step four – Give your input to the internal rules of engagement

From now there is an open consultation period on the internal rules of engagement, open to all, if they have indicated becoming a member.

2 - What to do if your organisation place restrictions on being a founding member of an organisation?

The OpenAIRE Legal Entity has already been set up and you are joining as a member (and not a founding member).

3 - Can any kind of member be in the standing committee?
Yes. anyone. But the Chair needs to be regular member.
4 - Will there be other financial overheads in the beginning period or after 2020?
This will be avoided. These are topics to be discussed at the LE GA.
5 - What is the NOAD position in the LE?

Once a NOAD becomes a member, they are automatically the NOAD in the first 18 months of the LE. If there are several parties per country, these parties decide after these 18 months who becomes regular member and has the vote.

6 - What is the 500 Euro fee?
This is a formality inserted into the text that will be decided on by LE members at the first GA LE. The annual increase mentioned will also be decided on.
It does not have to be paid yet. It doesn’t change your joining status.
It is not an overhead for the LE or a yearly fee.
It might be possible to pay this out of project money.
7 - What happens if we do not sign in 18 months?

You continue as NOAD as normal in the OpenAIRE-Advance project. However, you lose your prefered status in the LE. If someone else from your country comes they can take preference.

8 - What if there is more than one party in a country who wants to sign?

Several parties per country can join. These parties should decide at national level who has the vote and set up a national level agreement (NaMeCo). There can only be one voting party. E.g in the case of Germany the OpenAIRE-Advance NOAD is not the LE regular member, University of Göttingen is for the LE initially. There is currently such an agreement, being set up between the German organisations.

9 - What is meant by a ‘reference’ in the slides?
This is only in case of NaMeCo which stipulates you can prove you have agreed who takes the vote in the country.
10 - What are the benefits of joining early?

The earlier you join, or indicate to join, the more influence you can have in forming the LE by participating in discussions early and getting involved in the internal rules of engagement.

11 - Is it envisaged that there will be a Head of the OpenAIRE Executive Office?

Is it envisaged that there will be a Head of the OpenAire Executive Office? This is mentioned as a member of the OpenAIRE Advance project Management Board but this is missing from the list of Executive Office members for the LE. Can you clarify?

Article 12, 1 sets out the roles initially envisaged that will be present in the now renamed OpenAIRE Management Office (OMO), as consisting of:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Financial Officer
  • Legal Officer
  • PR and Media Officer
  • IT and Digital Officer
  • HR Officer
  • Administration Officer

The Head of the OpenAIRE Management Office will be the Chief Executive Officer.

12 - What's the status difference between an Associate Member and a Regular Member?

There appears to be a status difference between an Associate Member and a Regular Member; is that true?

The difference lies in the fact that the Regular Member is the legal member representative of the country concerned. Current OpenAIRE Advance project partners that also exist in any one country or others that eventually join any National Member Consortium headed by the Regular Member, will work through that Regular Member to have issues raised at the GA level.

13 - Are non-EU states eligible to be a NOAD?

Chapter 2, Article 3, Clause 2 of the LE statutes describes the political associations that would be required to become a member of the LE. One is membership of the European Union, the other is membership of the Council of Europe, which is separate and comprises 47 states and associate countries. Therefore, membership of the European Union is not a precondition for membership of the OpenAIRE LE.

In terms of becoming an ERIC, the criteria for inclusion can be found here.

This document states that “(13) Membership of an ERIC should comprise at least three Member States and may include qualified associated countries and third countries other than associated countries as well as specialised intergovernmental organisations.

14 - 18-month transition period: Would we as a NOAD or project member of OpenAIRE Advance have to sign the agreement during that 18-month period?

There is mention of an 18-month transition period after the LE has been established when the OpenAIRE Advance NOADs that have not called the LE into being by being the first signatories will be automatically members of the LE. Would we as a NOAD or project member of OpenAIRE Advance have to sign the agreement during that 18-month period? If we choose to leave the LE during this transition period, is there any kind of penalty, as was spelled out in the previous version of the statutes?

There is only the need to discuss within any country which institution would then actively sign up to the LE after those initial 18 months had elapsed.

If any institution in a country actively signs the LE during this transition period, then the situation for that institution changes, as described in point 7 B, above. From that point forward, the regulations laid out in Articles 4, 4 and 5,4. In effect, the transition period comes to an end for that institution as soon as it actively signs up to the LE.

There is no formal penalty for not signing up actively to the LE during that initial 18-month period.

At all times, the previous and existing obligations of NOADs and OpenAIRE Advance project partners continue to exist, beyond the question of actively joining the LE. The only ‘penalty’ is that after the initial 18-month period elapses and before the end of the OpenAIRE Advance project, decisions that affect the way the LE operates will be made without your participation until you sign up, which may include participation In further EU-funded calls in H2020 and FP9.

This will not affect or alter the regular project deliverables of the OpenAIRE Advance project.

15 - Obligation/commitment to the LE: Can you give a specific explanation of the financial aspects of being a member?

Can you please explain the obligation/commitment to the LE on the part of its Regular Members? Can you give a specific explanation of the financial aspects of being a member, for example, what will we have to contribute financially as a member?

Once the LE is established according to the minimum membership requirement (Chapter 2, Article 3, Clause 2), the following obligations/commitment to the LE obtain:

  1. For the first 18 months thereafter: All partners in OpenAIRE Advance will become members of the LE. During this period, there is only the obligation to consult within your country to determine: i) Whether you wish to continue, as an active signatory of the LE, after the elapse of these 18 months, and; ii) Where there is more than one extant NOAD or OpenAIRE project partner in any country, which one will become the Regular Member and which ones will become the Associate Members. During this period, there are no further obligations except the ones to which those who are also OpenAIRE project partners are bound.
  2. Once these 18 months have elapsed and you have signed up as an active member of the LE, beyond any regular OpenAIRE Advance project deliverables, you will be obliged only to maintain membership of the LE for the period that you have pledged. In previous iterations of the LE, this had been set at 5 years. However, to achieve maximum flexibility, LE Members may choose a shorter period of participation which they provide with their application and needs to be agreed by the existing Members. No membership fees or other direct financial commitments are included or implied at this stage.
  3. In the period after the end of the OpenAIRE Advance project, any discussions about going forward with ERIC status will be continued for a period of three years. During this time, the membership itself in the form of the General Assembly will determine in consultation with the OpenAIRE Executive Board the level of any financial commitments that would be needed in order to maintain OpenAIRE as an ERIC for example or as a going concern. The LE and any subsequent ERIC status are both designed to give the members themselves the power to determine how OpenAIRE develops and what financial commitments are introduced and when.
16 - Can non-members of the LE be on standing committees?
As they stand (dated 24_03_2018), the Statutes neither preclude this, nor do they specifically state that non-Members can or should be on Standing Committees – in other words, it is entirely at the discretion of the General Assembly as the governing body of the LE, which comprises its Regular Members.
17 - How does an organisation or person get to be on a standing committee?

This issue is addressed comprehensively in the proposed Statutes, under Chapter 4, Article 9, Clause 11 c and also under Chapter 4, Article 10, Clauses 1-11.

In short, the General Assembly, i.e., the Regular Members of the LE itself, appoints the members of any Standing Committee, after taking advice from the OpenAIRE Executive Board.

18 - Will OpenAIRE start charging for Services?

OpenAIRE states that some services will be marked as having a fee associated with them: what will we do if something within OpenAIRE suddenly has a fee and it uses a service from Member X, which is openly available?

As stated in 1), above, it is presupposed that members will also eventually be able to make use of services from other members of OpenAIRE as in-kind contributions.

Where OpenAIRE services are based on member services that may already be openly available, and where such services are parcelled into OpenAIRE ones offered against a calculated nominal fee, such fees will be determined purely for the purpose of:

  1. Giving external stakeholders bidding to EU and other project funding sources that wish to use or employ OpenAIRE services a straightforward formula that will ensure costs of additional effort and subsequent maintenance can be covered. Such costs would already include an element going to the original member service provider, where any such service would come into question, and;
  2. Members being able to provide costed, rational and concrete arguments in such cases to their funders, to ensure their established services can continue to be positioned and offered in the OpenAIRE and therefore international context, thus giving such member services stronger arguments regarding their long-term sustainability and managed growth.

OpenAIRE will only charge for services on the basis of maintaining and developing them, and then in the case of external stakeholders only in the context of specific projects.

19 - Service Level Agreement: What does it mean for a member to offer OpenAIRE services? And who would the SLA be between?

The statues state that each Member has to agree on the range of OpenAIRE services it will offer in the OpenAIRE context and agree on a specific Service Level Agreement”. What does it mean for a member to offer OpenAIRE services? And who would the SLA be between?

During the course of OpenAIRE’s development since 2009, many project members have created and deployed Open Access and Open Science services, which are now plugged into and inform OpenAIRE ones. In order for there to be clarity around mutual cost implications and service provision levels to external stakeholders, each such service should be the subject of an SLA agreement between OpenAIRE and the member provider. This is also in place to maintain the quality assurance ambitions of all parties concerned. The Term SLA has been substituted by the Principles of Engagement in the statutory documents.

These issues are also to a degree addressed in the Principles of Engagement document.

20 - Will OpenAIRE consider adopting in-kind contributions from LE members?

Eventually, membership of the Legal Entity may entail offering in-kind contributions, in particular if we are established as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). In this case, Members whose services are used by OpenAIRE will pledge to offer them at no cost, in exchange for the products and services of other LE members, that could be used to accelerate services development and provide new opportunities to support open science in your country.

These issues will be covered at the point we become an ERIC via a formal access policy based on the Commission’s guidelines, its Charter for Access, published in consultation with the ESFRI, the e-infrastructure Reflection Group (e-IRG), and the European Research Area stakeholder organisations in March 2016, for more please click here

21 - How will members and non-members use or interact with OpenAIRE services?

To an extent, this issue is covered by the Principles of Engagement document that accompanies the LE Statutes.

There is no direct or necessary relationship between membership of the Legal Entity and use of OpenAIRE services. OpenAIRE services (such as APIs) are currently free to use and access by members and non-members alike. As the services created under OpenAIRE Advance are released, others will also be able to use these related products at no cost during the life of OpenAIRE Advance (till end 2020), whether they are funders, researchers, or research-intensive institutions.

However, where these services will be employed in the established workflows of other research infrastructures rather than research-intensive institutions, or taken up to be tested or furthered as part of funded project work, the additional effort required to adapt and maintain these services would be reflected in appropriate costs which can be factored into bids and recurring maintenance grants.

We could also have a set of standard Terms of Service documents for different categories of services. This normally includes registered and non registered users (if we would like to differentiate between the two types). Also, we need to agree on licences used for the content we release under OpenAIRE.

More to follow shortly...
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