I appreciated Burgleman's entertaining description of how European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) became a reality. The paper tells the story from the “Brussel Bubble” perspective, to use the author's terminology. In doing so, he sheds light on many important aspects of the path to the necessary policies and stakeholder engagement around EOSC.

I recognise many of the discussions, fears and frustrations along the way. When I first heard of EOSC I must admit that I was sceptical too, like many other policy makers Burgleman mentions. The vision of EOSC was not as clear as it is today, it was cloudy. There were many different types of arguments on why Europe needed EOSC and what it was supposed to achieve. After years of discussions and iterations, I think that what Burgelman refers to as co-creation has resulted in objectives that many can agree to and align with.

EOSC rapidly gained a lot of momentum and support from the EC and the Council but it took longer for the broader group of stakeholders to recognise its value. There came a tidal wave of expert opinions about Open Science (OS), where many researchers were critical to the whole idea. It is and was of course essential to have the researchers on board, but EOSC was not an obvious bottom-up initiative. It was disruptive and was inherently going to be met with some resistance. Researchers feared, perhaps some still do, that EOSC policies would force them to give away their research data and produce piles of unusable but Open Data (OD). If it hadn't been for the FAIR principles, I think we still would have been busy discussing such topics today. However, I recognise that those who implement EOSC still have a huge task (and responsibility) ahead to ensure that the initiative reaches its full potential.

Burgleman claims the single biggest mistake was misjudging the democratic basis that underpins the decision making in each member states (MSs). The processes at national level are different to those of the EC. MSs must take a much broader perspective, considering the society at large in their countries and the priorities of their constituents. This means that they do not always end up drawing the same conclusions as a group of experts would do. To me, this is one of the key reasons why EC and MSs often need iterations of discussions to finally arrive at something that everyone can agree on. The differences in perspective are very valuable and I think EOSC needs both the democratic and expert component to be truly successful.

Thousands of stakeholders and policy makers have been involved in getting the EOSC ball rolling. The establishment of the EOSC Association marks a big milestone as the vision now has a formal platform where the stakeholders are working hard to detail the objectives and priorities. The value of EOSC and the work of its community has already been shown during the Corona pandemic, where researchers are sharing their findings to more rapidly find a cure.

As excited as I am to follow the implementation of EOSC, I am equally excited to discover the spill-overs from the initiative. CERN was built to create peace and better research, but also led to the invention of the World Wide Web. EOSC sets out to create a Web of FAIR data and enable better data intensive research. Perhaps it will help us find a path to data sovereignty that increases collaboration and thus leads to stability and peace in a rapidly changing world.

Author notes

At the time of writing, I am both the Swedish delegate and co-chair of the EOSC Governing Board. In my comments to this paper however, I do not represent any nation, organisation or board. These are simply my personal reflections on Burgleman's article based on my experiences from having worked with EOSC since 2016.

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