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Joint Research Centre and Czech Republic move towards enhanced collaborative research initiatives

A high-level Round Table on strategic collaboration in research takes place on 16 June 2005, in Prague. The meeting is intended to review experience and strategies of co-operation between the Czech Republic and the European Commission's Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (DG JRC) and to identify opportunities for enhanced collaborative research initiatives.

DG JRC follows a very active policy to assist the New Member States with the implementation and further development of EU policies in important areas, where a sound scientific base is essential to guarantee sustainable growth. Today's discussions build on a high level of already existing collaboration between the Czech scientific and research community and the JRC. Successful joint work is undertaken through some 72 networks in scientific areas, ranging from agriculture, environmental protection (soil, air, water, waste), nuclear safety, metrology, risk assessment of chemicals, food safety and genetically modified organisms, to information society and technology foresight.,Currently 26 Czech experts work in the JRC for a period ranging from six months to up to three years. Some 150 Czech experts are trained yearly in up to 100 workshops offered by the JRC. The Round Table is discussing strategic directions for future joint research activities linking DG JRC with Czech organisations and other possible EU partners within policy areas of prime concern for the European citizen, such as security, environment, health, food quality and nuclear safety. The proposed areas of policy-relevant research will be prioritised according to their relevance and potential impact on common objectives between the European Commission and the Czech government. Examples of successful joint projects Early flood warning on a European scale,DG JRC is currently testing and refining a pan-European Flood Alert System (EFAS). The aim is to provide national water authorities with an early warning capability for an impending flood disaster, and greater knowledge about its likely extent and development over time. Based on the computer model LISFLOOD, combining medium-range weather forecasts and hydrological data from water authorities, this system simulates the flow in many large European rivers with a lead-time of three to ten days. This will allow more time for appropriate action to prevent human casualties and reduce material losses. The system has a particular focus on large, trans-boundary river basins. The three major river basins (Oder, Elbe and Morava/Danube) of the Czech Republic, are included in EFAS. The set-up and testing of EFAS for the Czech Republic is done closely with the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute (CHMI) in Prague. A hydrological expert from CHMI has been assigned since January 2003 to DG JRC to collaborate with the EFAS team. European Network of GMO Laboratories The Czech Republic has a strong role in the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL). This is a network of national GMO enforcement laboratories charged with harmonising and standardising GMO testing within Europe, and it actively supports the operations of the Community Reference Laboratory for GM Food and Feed. The following Czech laboratories are members of ENGL: Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague; Research Institute of Crop Production, Prague; National Institute of Public Health, Brno; State Veterinary Institution Jihlava; Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection, Brno. DG JRC illustrated its excellent collaboration with these five Czech laboratories by organising the launch ceremony for the official enlargement of ENGL in Prague in April 2004. Furthermore, on that occasion, a stakeholders' conference was held to inform the governments of the New Member States about the EU processes for implementing the GMO legislation. Alternative Testing Methods The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) develops and validates methods to replace, reduce or refine (3Rs) the use of animal testing for medicines and chemical safety testing. ,An important ECVAM/ecopa Stakeholder Workshop on the Formation of National Consensus Platforms for Alternatives to Animal Testing in the New EU Member States and Candidate Countries was held on 5 and 6 June 2004 in Prague.,The workshop brought together representatives from regulatory bodies, industry, biomedical scientists, consumer organisations and animal welfare groups. It encouraged them to establish national consensus platforms in their countries, to promote the development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods via research programmes, participation in validation activities and targeted information.,The workshop was co-organised with ecopa, european consensus-platform for alternatives. This is an international not-for-profit organisation, based in Belgium, which brings together national consensus platforms on alternative methods, i.e. animal welfare, industry, academia and governmental institutions. Training and Education in Metrology, ,The proper functioning of the internal market, as well as the implementation of EU regulations in environment, food safety or health is dependent on reliable scientific measurements. This can only be achieved via competent laboratory staff. DG JRC, together with strategic national partners, runs training and education programmes that assist national laboratories to fulfill these technical requirements.,The Czech Republic, via the Czech Metrological Institute (CMI) together with Technical University Prague, has worked with DG JRC on training and education in metrology. For example, five training events have been organised in the Czech Republic since 2002. CMI is also a leading partner in the DG Research 2005 ERA-NET iMERA' (improved metrology in the European Research Area').For more information on the activities of DG JRC: http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/,And its enlargement activities: http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/enlargement