Joint Research Centre - European Commission

JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE
The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

JRC History

Signature of the Treaties of RomeIn 1957, two treaties of Rome were sanctioned: one to establish the European Economic Community (EEC) and one to establish the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The Joint Research Centre was originally established under the Euratom treaty. Euratom’s role is to promote nuclear safety and security in Europe and the JRC has been contributing to this aim with its research activities ever since.

Milestones

1957 Treaties of Rome
1959 Inauguration of the Ispra site (Italy)
1960 Inauguration of the Geel site (Belgium)
1962 Establishment of the Petten site (Netherlands)
1965 Inauguration of the ITU in Karlsruhe (Germany)
1994 Creation of IPTS in Seville (Spain)

The JRC has, however, at the request of its customers, expanded to also embrace other fields important to policy making, such as life sciences, energy, security and consumer protection. It has transformed itself from a purely research-driven organisation focussing on nuclear energy to a customer-driven, research-based policy support organisation. Today, the JRC is deeply embedded in the European Research Area and the EU legislative process.

This page provides an overview of the JRC's scientific achievements and evolution of priorities during the decades.

1957 -> 1969: Putting the elements together

Following the Second World War, nuclear energy was seen as one of the main future means of energy generation in Europe. As the nuclear industry started to expand at an unprecedented rate, national authorities in many European countries considered it critical to be able to further develop nuclear knowledge: for example, neutron data were urgently needed for reactor design, waste management and ... (more)

1970 -> 1979: Shaking up research in Europe

The public debate in the 1960s had coined two new terms – ‘technology gap’ and ‘brain drain’. The 1970s began with growing concern over the widening gap in R&D efforts and achievements between Europe and, most notably, the US. The overly-fragmented research efforts in Europe sparked the need to increase ... (more)

1980 -> 1989: Combining forces

During the 1980s, there was widespread debate across the European Economic Community on how research and technological development activities could strengthen industrial competitiveness in the Community. This led to the launch of industryrelated programmes and improved collaboration between industry and research.

At the same time, the multi-annual programmes adopted by the European Council called for better research results. To achieve these, the JRC ... (more)

1990 -> 1999: Growing and energising

In this decade, the JRC further developed its work in areas such as environmental impact and nuclear energy, and focused heavily on public health, safety and security. It also moved into entirely new fields, reflecting the developments of the time: for example, at the end of the nineties, food scares such as BSE (‘mad cow disease’) and dioxin contamination led to ... (more)

2000 -> Today: Preparing for the future

Technological advancements were continuing to develop at an impressive rate and were enhancing numerous aspects of everyday life across Europe. In this decade, amidst new ways of producing food, energy and consumer goods, the safety and well-being of EU citizens had to remain ... (more)

People and visits

The JRC is constantly welcoming visitors to its sites. Many of these visits remain memorable moments ... (more)