The Beyond EPICA – Oldest Ice (BE-OI) consortium and its international partners unite a globally unique concentration of scientific expertise and infrastructure for ice-core investigations. BE-OI is an EU Coordination and Support Action (CSA). It delivers the technical, scientific and financial basis for a comprehensive plan to retrieve an ice core up to 1.5 million years old in a future project during the Beyond EPICA – Drilling Phase. This would be an important contribution for the future exploration of Antarctica and promises unique insights about climate and the global carbon fluxes. This knowledge will improve future prognoses of climate development with solid quantitative data and will allow establishing more targeted strategies, to cope with the societal challenges of global change. BE-OI is the European contribution for the global search for a suitable site for a ice-core deep drilling. The consortium takes care of the pre-site surveys for site selection around Dome C and Dome Fuji, both potentially appropriate regions in East Antarctica. Other science consortia will investigate other regions under the umbrella of the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS).