The Committee of Senior Officials of COST (European cooperation in scientific and technical research), meeting in Lecce, Italy, on 24 and 25 June 1996, welcomed the applications of Malta and Estonia. Malta was invited to participate in COST meetings, with the right to speak pending the formal decision on its entry to COST, which will be taken at the ministerial meeting in Prague in May 1997. Estonia was invited to present its RTD policies to the next meeting of senior officials, to be held in Brussels in October 1996. COST aims to provide a flexible framework for the implementation of precompetitive research projects of European significance, best conducted through cooperation between industry (especially SMEs), scientific institutes, universities and national research centres. At present COST has 25 member countries (the 15 EU Member States, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Turkey. Romania has observer status). A total of 134 COST actions are currently under way. The Committee also heard a report on neurosciences, and identified two priority areas for action: - Neurobiology of cognition and perception; - Growth and repair processes in the central nervous system. The Committee recommended the establishment of an ad hoc working group in this area. The themes of the next ministerial meeting were also decided. One of these, which will be the responsibility of the Swedish delegation, will be evaluation.