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Brussels, 5 October 1999
European Union and USA to measure together
Keywords: International Cooperation, Measurement Standards, Metrology
Today in Brussels, Jorma Routti, Director-General of the European Commission's Research DG, and Ray Kammer, Director of the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), signed an Implementing Arrangement for cooperation in the fields of metrology and measurement standards. The implementing arrangement comes under the science and technology cooperation agreement between the European Union and the United States, which came into force in October 1998. It will facilitate transatlantic cooperation in those technical and scientific activities needed to ensure that the European metrology community can contribute effectively at the international level, and support the negotiations between the EU and the US related to the removal of technical barriers to trade.
Transatlantic cooperation in measurement science already has a long and honourable history, and the joint project1 involving a number of European National Metrology Institutes and NIST completed at the end of 1998 highlighted the mutual benefits of a closer and more formal basis for future work. In an ever more complex society the needs of commerce as well as protecting the health and safety of the citizen rely on our ability to measure. The demands are ever-increasing: new measurements, greater accuracy in our existing capability, improved reliably, faster results and lower cost. Alongside the technical and scientific capability is the need to build confidence in each other's capability to measure. This implementing arrangement will aid the European and US metrology community in the pursuit of these common goals.
In addition to the arrangement signed today, there has been significant progress in several other areas of the EU-US agreement. For example:
- in September 1999, the EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research held its 9th meeting in Arlington (US);
- in June 1999, a second EU-US conference, New Vistas in Transatlantic S&T Cooperation, held in Stuttgart, was attended by some 260 delegates;
- a joint EU-US experts panel meeting on endocrine-disrupting chemicals was held at the Joint Research Centre (Ispra, Italy) in April 1999;
- a joint IST2 -NSF working group has been established resulting in a coordinated call for proposals in the area of language engineering and human-computer interaction in March 1999;
- in December 1998, an EU-NSF3 Materials Research Workshop was held in Boston and a joint EU-US workshop on research evaluation in Vienna;
- implementing arrangements on earthquake engineering research and materials research are in preparation between the Commission's Research DG and NSF, as is another implementing arrangement with the USDoE on energy research - probably covering such areas as fuel cells, and clean coal and biomass technologies;
- since the first conference in June 1998, there has been regular contact between the Commission's Transport DG and the US Department of Transportation, its agencies and associated organisations.
For further information on the implementing arrangement, please contact:
Dr Wiktor Raldow
Head of Unit, C.II.3: Measurement and testing, infrastructure, Research DG
Mr Andrew Henson
Scientific Officer, C.II.3, Research DG
Mr Mark Bello
For further information on the EU-US S&T agreement, please contact:
Mr Frans Govaerts
Desk Officer for North America, Research DG
Mr Stephen Gosden
Press and Information Officer, Research DG
1 Mutual Acceptance of Calibration Certificates between EUROMET and NIST
2 IST: Information Society Technologies programme - part of the EU's Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development
3 NSF: National Science Foundation
Project: Mutual Acceptance of Calibration Certificates between
EUROMET and NIST
In December 1995 the European Council of Ministers and the American President signed the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA) signifying the intent of increasing the collaboration and trade between the Member States of the European Union and the United States as well as expressing concern for global issues relating to safety and the environment. Early in 1996, representatives from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) approached the European Commission's Research DG (at that time known as DGXII) with a view to intensifying collaboration on metrology in order to support the NTA's objectives. With EUROMET acting as the counterpart to NIST this project was formulated. The EU-US Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) signed in May 1998 provided the political framework for the project's implementation.
The objective of the project was to set up a technical scheme allowing regulatory bodies of EU Member States and the US easy access to the results of comparisons between the National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) involved in order to justify mutual acceptance of their measurement results. This means that, provided the conditions set by the scheme are met, measurement certificates issued by European NMIs and NIST are mutually accepted as technically equivalent. This technical equivalence should ease the acceptance of regulatory bodies for the purpose of satisfying international trade and regulatory requirements.
The project commenced in November 1997 and focused on five areas where metrology problems had been identified: avionics, environmental protection, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, electromagnetic compatibility and interference, and occupational health and safety. First, eleven high-priority measurement quantities were identified on which a first version of a comparison database was based. At the same time, discussions were carried out with regulatory bodies within the five areas. The next step was to include all comparisons within the selected frameworks in a database, and the resulting database was presented at the EUROMET Committee meeting in Dublin in May 1998 together with the results of the discussion of regulatory bodies.
The project resulted in the production of a directory of regulatory authorities in the US and Europe, as well as a directory of comparisons relevant to the issues mentioned above, case studies of avionics and electromagnetic compatibility, a standard procedure for conducting comparisons and guidelines for acceptance of calibration certificates. The project has not revealed any examples of a lack of metrological equivalence between European NMIs and NIST that were of practical importance for the five selected thematic sectors. Although the formal agreement on mutual acceptance is still pending, the project has demonstrated that there is no technical barrier to this, and also facilitated progress towards mutual acceptance between NMIs worldwide.
Coordinator: Dr. K. Carneiro, Danish Institute of Fundamental Metrology
Bygning 307 Anker Engelunds Vej 1
DK-2800 Lyngby Denmark
Tel: +45 4593 1144 Fax: +45 4593 1137
PRESS RELEASES | PRESS RELEASES OF 1999 | 28.02.2000