JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE : JRC REFOCUSES ACTIVITIES BASED ON EU PRIORITIES.
The year 2011 witnessed an acceleration in the otherwise slow evolution of the EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) since its inception in 1957. From then on, according to its Director-General, Frenchman Dominique Ristori, the JRC - the only European Commission service in charge of direct research - has refocused its scientific activities in support of important EU policies, in particular the Europe 2020' strategy. The JRC's recently published Annual report 2011'(1) claims that last year the JCR also reinforced its links with national governments, some great partners, such as the US federal agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the scientific community, as well as the industry.
Ristori comments that "European decision makers inside the Commission, Parliament and Council are increasingly faced with policy dilemmas requiring solid scientific evidence in areas such as smart grids, genetically modified organisms, nanotechnologies and dangerous chemicals". These are all fields to which the JRC has contributed at the behest of the EU, of the industry or of regional bodies. In total, in 2011, the JRC had over 1,350 publications to its name. In 2011, "the real brain of the European Commission" - as Research Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn refers to the JRC - also focused on preventing cyber threats and improving air quality, while continuing to monitor pollutants in soil and water, and contributing to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Global forest remote sensing survey'.
Nuclear activities were established under the Euratom Treaty, and gradually reduced, so that they are now only being performed in two of the JRC's seven research centres - in Karlsruhe, Germany (specialised in transuranium elements) and in Ispra, Italy (nuclear stress tests and post-Fukishima' support). The nuclear installations at the Geel centre in Belgium were dismantled in 2011.
The Joint Research Centre was created in 1957. It was initially focused exclusively on nuclear research activities, but in 1970 it started opening up to more varied activities.
It has seven scientific institutes, located at the following sites: Petten (Netherlands), Geel (Belgium), Karlsruhe (Germany), Ispra (Italy) and Seville (Spain).
The JRC has a total of 2,828 scientific and technical personnel.
In 2011, its spending reached 368.5 million euro, with a further 26.3 million euro spent on the dismantling of nuclear installations and waste management.
(1) The report is available at ec.europa.eu/dgs/jrc/downloads/jrc_ar_2011.pdf