Commission proposes pan-European metrology research programme
The European Commission has put forward a proposal for a joint European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP). Metrology, the science of measurement, has applications in fields as diverse as healthcare, energy, environment and security, and in the development of new technologies. It also plays an important role in supporting standardisation, both in Europe and worldwide.
Under Article 185 of the EC Treaty, the proposed EMRP would bring together 22 national metrology research programmes from across Europe. Article 185 initiatives allow the European Community to participate financially in research programmes undertaken jointly by a number of countries involved in the research framework programmes.
The EMRP will be funded to the tune of EUR 400 million; half of this will come from the countries involved and the other half will be allocated by the European Commission. Its work will be coordinated by the European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET), which oversees cooperation between the national metrology institutes in Europe.
Last year, the European metrology research community released a draft work programme that outlined the 'grand challenges' facing metrology today in the areas of health, energy, environment and new technologies. 'Metrology research in Europe in these fields has so far been rather fragmented and not yet been strategically coordinated,' the programme reads.
In the health sector, metrology can contribute to the 'virtual human' project, the model of human anatomy that works as a comprehensive reference standard for the manufacturers of medical instruments, for example. Metrology can also be used to improve qualitative diagnostics including imaging and microscopy.
In the environment field, the most urgent research questions relate to the development of validated measurement techniques, and sensors and measurement standards to monitor climate change, oversee the implementation of the Kyoto protocol and ensure the efficient and sustainable use of resources.
In nanotechnology, metrologists have a key role to play in developing techniques to measure distances at the sub-nanometre scale, among other things.
Security research also relies on metrology, for example in the development of detectors for security applications, as in the detection of toxins in the atmosphere, and in the detection of other hazardous materials in a range of settings.
Currently, metrology research in Europe is coordinated through an ERA-NET project called iMERA-Plus. The Article 185 initiative would extend and deepen this existing cooperation. The European Parliament and Europe's research ministers will now discuss the Commission's proposal.
So far, two Article 185 initiatives have been received official approval; the 'Ambient Assisted Living' (AAL) programme, which aims to improve the quality of life of older people through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs); and the EUROSTARS programme, which is designed to help research-performing SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). A further initiative on the Baltic Sea will be proposed by the Commission in 2009.
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Data Source Provider: European Commission
Document Reference: Based on information from the European Commission
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Measurement Methods; Mathematics, Statistics; Reference Materials; Scientific Research; Standards