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Seventh Framework Programme: activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC)

The main aim of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) is to provide scientific and technical support for the policies of the European Union. More specifically, it acts as an interface between technological research and the practical applications of this research in Community policies. In preparation for the Seventh Framework Programme, a Specific Programme has been drawn up defining the activities of the JRC. This document describes the features and general objectives of the programme and the main activities which it comprises.

ACT

Council Decision 2006/975/EC of 19 December 2006 concerning the Specific Programme to be carried out by means of direct actions by the Joint Research Centre under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2013) [Official Journal L 400, 30.12.2006].

SUMMARY

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) carries out fundamental research and provides know-how and scientific and technical support for the policies of the European Union. An important function is to promote technology transfer of the results of research, both to create industrial added value and to support the Community's innovation policies. Set up 43 years ago to provide European expertise in the nuclear power field, over time it has become a vast, diverse and multi-purpose research institution that is completely integrated into the Commission.

CHARACTERISTICS AND GENERAL OBJECTIVES

The task of the JRC under this Specific Programme will be to give users a greater role in drafting, implementing and following up Community policies, supporting and facilitating this process, but also reacting to new requests.

In terms of approach, the emphasis will be placed on both the "better regulation" requirement as defined in the new Lisbon Strategy and on developing the means and capabilities to deal with emerging challenges. In addition, it will strengthen scientific community networking by:

  • flexibly responding to the developing needs and requirements of the EU policy makers;
  • focusing on important challenges facing society that contain both a scientific and a Community dimension;
  • developing partnerships with research centres, universities, industry, public authorities, regulatory bodies in the Member States and with third countries and international bodies;
  • expanding its skills and improving its facilities;
  • collaborating with EU agencies, other EU institutions and the competent authorities in the Member States.

One of the particular features of this Specific Programme lies in its integrated approach to providing scientific and technological support for policies. This should contribute to a better understanding, in a number of fields, of the interactions between developments in technology and science, innovation and competitiveness on the one hand, and different regulatory and policy approaches on the other.

The Board of Governors will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the JRC work programme on an annual basis. Every year, the JRC will assess the results and impact of the actions implemented. Meanwhile, user satisfaction surveys, which until now have been carried out every two years, will most likely be replaced with a system for the continuous collection of comments. In addition, in line with the Commission's rules and good practices concerning its evaluation activities, there will be a mid-term review (3½ years after the start of the Research Framework Programme). This review will be carried out by external experts and will be chiefly based on information gathered during each annual review. Lastly, a general assessment will be carried out at the end of the seven-year Framework Programme.

The budget required for carrying out this Specific Programme is estimated at 1 751 million for the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013.

It is worth noting that the Seventh Framework Programme, including the various Specific Programmes and the research activities they give rise to, should respect fundamental ethical principles and give consideration to social, legal, socio-economic, cultural and gender mainstreaming aspects.

ACTIVITIES

JRC actions will focus chiefly on the following policy themes:

  • prosperity in a highly knowledge-based society;
  • solidarity and the responsible management of resources;
  • security and freedom;
  • Europe as world partner.

Prosperity in a highly knowledge-based society

This field breaks down into five distinct agendas relating to:

  • competitiveness and innovation;
  • the European Research Area;
  • energy and transport;
  • information society;
  • life sciences and biotechnology.

Competitiveness and innovation will be promoted in a number of ways:

  • the production and dissemination of internationally accepted references;
  • the implementation of a common European measurement system;
  • support for the drafting of EU policy on international trade (assessing the impact of trade policy on sustainable development and competitiveness);
  • improving understanding of the relationship between education provision and the needs of the scientific community, of factors affecting equity in education, and how efficient use of educational resources can be achieved;
  • the identification and assessment of eco-efficient technologies and the study of the conditions under which they are developed.

The JRC will contribute directly to the European Research Area through:

  • scientific networking, training and mobility for researchers;
  • enhancing access to research infrastructures;
  • developing collaborative research;
  • supporting the implementation of the research policy;
  • technology assessments of research priorities in individual thematic areas *;
  • creating and using science and technology foresight methods.

In the energy field, the JRC has three main objectives:

  • to provide a sustainable energy reference system;
  • to act as reference centre (validation of results, certification of technologies, etc.);
  • to provide information on the reliability of energy supply in Europe.

In the transport field, the JRC's activities will focus on:

  • the balance between the development of sustainable transport and the protection of the environment;
  • the technical and economical dimension of new fuels and engines;
  • the social dimension (spatial planning, health, etc.), plus aspects relating to the security and safety of air, land and maritime transport.

The JRC will also contribute to the creation of policies and instruments for information society technologies. It will also participate in the implementation of EU policies that are affected by developments in these technologies (e.g. e-business, personal security, e-governance, etc.) or linked to overall European strategies relating to growth, social inclusion and quality of life. Lastly, the JRC will concentrate its efforts on the "convergence" of applications in the fields of health, security and the environment. The aim is to assess the potential impact of science and information technology on society in terms of competitiveness, privacy, ownership and social inclusion.

The JRC will also expand its skills in the field of life sciences and biotechnology by carrying out socio-economic impact studies and by implementing new strategies and processes. Activities will also be carried out in the field of biotechnology, in connection with health and agriculture (including the food industry).

Solidarity and the responsible management of resources

This field breaks down into four distinct agendas relating to:

  • rural development, agriculture and fisheries;
  • natural resources;
  • environment and health;
  • climate change.

The JRC will support rural development, agriculture and fisheries policies on three levels, relating to production, environmental aspects and relations between producers and consumers. The Specific Programme is also intended to improve the quality and accessibility of scientific data and to develop processes for assessing the economic and social impact of policy management options.

As regards natural resources, JRC activities will focus on:

  • water management (ecological quality of Europe's inland and coastal waters, pollutant cycles, etc.);
  • soil protection and monitoring;
  • analysis of the life cycle of resources from extraction through use, recycling and ultimate disposal of materials;
  • sustainable production and consumption of natural resources and materials;
  • the environmental impact and sustainability of products under different technology and policy scenarios;
  • forestry (biodiversity, forest fires, resources, climate change, etc.);
  • technical support for the EU shared environment information system in the context of the development of INSPIRE;
  • analysis of the impact of structural and cohesion programmes and support for regional policies.

In addition, the JRC will contribute to making the link between the environment and health via:

  • the development and validation of methods for monitoring different pathways of exposure for humans (air, water, foodstuffs, chemical substances);
  • the assessment of the effects on health of the different forms of exposure;
  • the creation of an integrated environmental system.

As regards climate change, JRC action will focus on the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. It will also have the task of assessing the impact of climate (flooding, drought, forest fires, storms, etc.) on the most vulnerable sectors of Europe's economy (agriculture and forestry in particular). Lastly, the JRC will tackle the question of integrating climate-related policies into other sectoral policies in the context of analysing the different options for the post-Kyoto period.

Security and freedom

This section breaks down into three distinct agendas relating to:

  • internal security;
  • disasters and response;
  • food and feed safety and quality.

JRC support for EU policies relating to internal security consists in particular in the application of systems analysis competencies in the following areas:

  • the fight against criminality, fraud and trafficking;
  • the protection of critical infrastructures;
  • anti-terrorism measures;
  • border security and migration management.

The JRC will also intervene on the ground in the event of natural disasters and technological accidents. In particular, it will contribute to improving the EU response capacity and to optimising crisis management in terms of rapidity of response, monitoring and damage assessment.

As regards the food industry, JRC actions will be based around the Fork to Farm concept. More specifically, it will validate methods and harmonised procedures for a broad range of food and feed types. In addition, it will develop its capacity for managing food crises.

Europe as a world partner

The theme of EU external relations comprises two distinct agendas: global security and development cooperation.

As regards global security, the JRC will provide technological support for, among others, the following:

  • identifying forgotten crises;
  • early warning of potential crises;
  • humanitarian needs assessment and relief;
  • integrated crisis response;
  • post-crisis damage assessment;
  • creation of a rapid mapping database;
  • cross-border stability (non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the fight against trafficking and terrorism).

In terms of development cooperation, the JRC will play a role in setting up and operating an Observatory for Sustainable Development and Environment. This will be set up initially in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. At the heart of the observatory will be an information gathering and communication system. The system will focus essentially on the three following aspects:

  • environmental diagnostics and country profiles;
  • scenario building;
  • cross-policy interactions.

The work of the observatory will focus above all on responding to existing needs. It will be designed in such a way that it can be managed by developing countries.

Background

Since 1984, the research and technological development policy of the European Union has been founded on multiannual framework programmes. The Seventh Framework Programme is the second programme since the launch of the Lisbon Strategy in 2000 and will be crucially important for growth and employment in Europe over the coming years. The Commission wishes to advance the "knowledge triangle" of research, education and innovation so that knowledge is used to promote economic dynamism as well as social and environmental progress.

Key terms used in the act
  • Thematic areas: health; food, agriculture and biotechnology; information and communication technologies; nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies; energy; environment (including climate change); transport (including aeronautics); socio-economic sciences and humanities; security and space.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2006/975/EC

1.1.2007 - 31.12.2013

-

OJ L 400 of 30.12.06

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision 2006/977/Euratom of 19 December 2006 concerning the Specific Programme to be carried out by means of direct actions by the Joint Research Centre under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2011) [Official Journal L 400, 30.12.2006].

This Decision concerns the objectives and activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) under the Euratom Specific Programme. These are linked mainly to training, knowledge management, nuclear safety, waste management and the impact of nuclear activity on the environment.

Last updated: 12.01.2007
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