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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Measurements & testing projects > Measurements and testing – past, present and future
Graphic element Measurements and testing - past, present and future

At present, few areas are as fundamentally important as the field of measurements and testing (M&T). Virtually every productive endeavour imaginable requires the use of a reliable, standardised and accurate measurement and verification system, especially as accession countries now have their sites trained on adopting European standards and practices.

Since 1973, with the establishment of the Community Bureau of Reference (BCR) at the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Union has been closely involved in measurements and testing-related research. From 1994 to 1998, the original BCR activities were part of the Standards, Measurements and Testing (SMT) Programme, which was aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry, supporting the implementation of other Community policies and, more generally, meeting the needs of society vis--vis measurements and testing. Activities spanned a wide variety of areas ranging from European product quality measurements to research related to written standards and technical support for trade, health and safety, protection of cultural heritage, environmental monitoring and the justice system.

M&T and the Growth Programme

Under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) (1998-2002), research in measurements and testing has been positioned as a generic activity within the Competitive and Sustainable Growth Programme. Under 'Growth', the work of M&T has been vital in supporting the objectives of the programme as a whole, namely, helping European industry to become more competitive while preserving the long-term well being of European citizens. But M&T has also supported other work under the FP5 in a variety of areas and has facilitated the implementation of numerous EU policies.

The M&T activity has sought to meet three socio-economic objectives:

  • Pre-normative research and technical support for standardisation - developing and validating measurement and testing methods and certified reference materials needed in support of Community policies;
  • The fight against fraud - developing measurement and testing methods for detecting and preventing crime and fraud;
  • Quality improvements - developing new and improved measurement and testing methods, and establishing international 'traceability' and equivalence of measurements.

In order to address each of these socio-economic objectives, several specific research objectives have been pursued

  • Development of new instrumentation;
  • Development of new methodologies;
  • Development of new reference materials.

Several means of implementation have been used, including thematic networks, virtual institutes and concerted actions, as well as more traditional RTD projects. Furthermore, the Commission has made an effort through calls for Expressions of Interest and Dedicated Calls (see page.) to ensure that these specific goals are met.

A New Framework Programme and a larger Europe for M&T

By all accounts, M&T will continue to be an area of crucial importance as we move into the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) (2002-2006), the primary instrument through which the objectives of the European Research Area will be realised.

M&T will be of particular importance with respect to the issue of Union enlargement. Bringing candidate countries into the European fold will imply a huge array of standardising and harmonising activities, not just in terms of legislation but also in terms of the way trade and product development is carried out. The upcoming conference, entitled 'Towards an integrated infrastructure for measurements', to be held in Warsaw in June 2002, will no doubt highlight the potential contributions of accession countries like Poland, as well as their special challenges.

According to Professor Krysztof Kurzydlowski of the State Committee for Scientific Research "With the accession process moving forward, Polish companies are now taking seriously the idea of competing on the open European market, and there is a growing interest among all of the Newly Associated States (NAS) (see page.) in the codes and practices of EU industry. Many of us now believe that NAS research institutes can be powerhouses for EU research and development in the future. We will certainly represent a major pool of excellent young researchers as a growing number of our students are now taking courses in science and engineering."

An expanding source of collaboration

As for all the Member States, the increasing support for co-operation presented by EU-funded research in M&T and many other areas represents an immeasurable opportunity. An expanding pool of resources, in terms of funding, political support and the growing number of potential collaborators, will ensure that Europe can maintain its competitive edge while offering an increasing and sustainable quality of life to its citizens.

M&T and the Growth Programme
A New Framework Programme and a larger Europe for M&T
An expanding source of collaboration

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