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JRC showcases 2005 achievements in annual report

The seeds that grew into the Joint Research Centre (JRC) were sewn during the culture of cooperation, widespread following the Second World War. The process accelerated up to the 25 March 1957 treaty of Rome, which finalised not only the foundations for the then European Econo...

The seeds that grew into the Joint Research Centre (JRC) were sewn during the culture of cooperation, widespread following the Second World War. The process accelerated up to the 25 March 1957 treaty of Rome, which finalised not only the foundations for the then European Economic Community, but also the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Part of the Euratom treaty insisted that an organisation carry out the necessary research the Commission required. This research organisation grew into the JRC. The JRC's 2005 annual report gives a snapshot of some of the leading-edge research it has undertaken, much of it groundbreaking. The JRC's disparate locations around Europe came from donations in the 1950s and 1960s - the Ispra site from Italy, the reactor at Petten in the Netherlands, the research facility in Geel, Belgium and the Institute for Transuranium Elements in Karlsruhe, Germany. The Seville site is a relatively recent addition, in 1992. The JRC began to diversify its activities more widely in the 1970s to include much more than nuclear research. Today, the JRC's remit ensures it serves as a 'reference centre' for science and technology in the EU, serving Member States but acting independently. In 2005, the JRC employed 1,708 core workers, supplemented by 947 visiting workers, together spending 299 million euro while authoring 1581 publications. Some of the JRC's work involves contributing to or leading Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) projects. The JRC won 55 projects in 2005 - 53 per cent of those it applied for. The JRC spent some 11 million euro on activities to support research required by the Commission, but not covered by JRC's work programme. The JRC's staff are drawn from all corners of the EU, and the organisation is often held as an example of EU cooperation at its best. EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik says in the report's introduction that he welcomes '[T]he efforts to strengthen scientific-technical support to the Commission, the European Parliament and opportunities to also support the Council [...]. My objective remains the same, namely to make European science the best and to have the world's best scientists working for its development for the benefit of European competitiveness and prosperity. Via its work programme, visiting staff and exchange programmes in tandem with its scientific expertise, facilities and networks, the JRC plays a role in achieving this.' Amongst the stand-out results from 2005 are the first soil atlas of Europe. The JRC coordinated this project, which included input from more than 40 countries. The atlas will be useful in monitoring the degradation of soil, threats to human health and naturally, the protection of soil, viewing it as a non-renewable resource. The project won the prestigious Golden Sickle prize at the Agrokomplex International Agricultural and Food Fair for the JRC. Listing all of the JRC's projects in 2005 in detail would be lengthy, but the edited highlights include the Africa Observatory for Sustainable Development, which will concentrate understanding of environmental changes. The JRC helped in the coordination of efforts to alleviate the effects of both the Asian tsunami and South Asia earthquake disasters through high quality maps and other skills. In the field of renewable energy, the JRC opened new hydrogen and fuel cell test facilities at Petten. In safety, new testing methods developed by the JRC will help in the fight against the smuggling of nuclear material, while new regulations in the chemical industry will help both in the testing of chemicals and in developing alternatives to animal testing.

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