The 1996 Annual Report of the Environment Institute, part of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, has recently been published. The Institute carries out much of its work, about 70%, providing independent scientific support for EU policies to the Commission. The main support activities consist of monitoring, legislative support and quality control and fraud. The remainder of the Institute's work involves participation in collaborative research programmes at European level. In particular, the Institute has taken steps to meet the 20% target set for its participation in competitive activities. Highlights during 1996 included: - Completion of the Auto-Oil studies; - Preparing the Aerosol Characterization Experiment, an international global change study; - Support for the EU's recently adopted Air Quality Framework Directive; - Coordinating the newly established Alpine Observatory; - Increased activities in the field of consumer protection; - Managing the European Chemicals Bureau; - Participation in shared cost actions under the Environment and Climate, SMT, FAIR and Nuclear Fission Safety programmes.