As part of the programme of evaluations of Community research activities, independent experts have conducted an evaluation of the activities of the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) over the past five years. An individual report has been compiled by visiting groups on each of the seven Institutes of the JRC, together with a summary report collating these individual reports. The report underlines that in the five years covered by the report, the JRC has undergone substantial transformation. In particular, its work is now substantially oriented towards competitive research, both within Community research programmes and for external bodies. This change in approach has also meant that the JRC is now involved in many more partnerships and networks with external research organizations than previously. Greater contact with outside organizations has also had the benefit of making the JRC more open and accessible. The speed with which the JRC has adapted to this change is commended in the report, while the role of the recent guidelines from the Council have also assisted in giving the JRC greater direction. The report warns of the dangers of too much diversification in the JRC's activities, arguing that the JRC should focus on areas where it does not duplicate national facilities. The JRC should be a centre of excellence, carrying out first-class work, it states. The recruitment and staffing policies of the JRC are noted as a point of concern in the report. In particular, in order to ensure that the highest calibre scientists continue to work at the JRC, the report suggests that the recruitment procedure needs to be changed. Greater use of temporary staff needs to be made, in order to ensure sufficient mobility and refreshing of ideas. Energy policy related research in the nuclear field needs to be conducted irrespective of policies at national level, the report argues, since the problems and challenges associated with its use are pan-European. The report suggests that the JRC, already possessing considerable expertise in the field, is ideally placed to play a major role in this work. The report concludes that the JRC is now on the right track, and that present policies are workable and satisfactory. The Centre has been transformed into a useful partner of institutions and industry in Europe, it continues. However, in order to maintain this progress, the report makes a number of recommendations, principally relating to staff management, support of quality, and focusing of research subjects. The published report includes the individual reports and recommendations on each Institute, as well as the summary overall report on the JRC. The comments of the JRC's Board of Governors are also included.