The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is an autonomous Directorate General of the Commission and acts as a science and technology and reference centre for the Union. It has at its disposal a unique combination of facilities and skills which transcend national borders. Close to the policy formulation process while remaining independent of vested commercial or national interests, it serves the common interest of the Member States. The largest establishments of the JRC are situated at Ispra (Italy), while specialised institutes are located at Geel (Belgium), Petten (Netherlands), Karlsruhe (Germany) and Seville (Spain) [Decision 96/282].
The mission of JRC is to provide customer-driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of common policies. In implementing its mission, the JRC endeavours to coordinate R & D activities carried out in the Member States. Its work depends on intensive networking with public and private institutions in the Member States through, for example, research networks, joint projects or staff exchanges [COM/2001/215]. This is important because the JRC's mission is complementary to the indirect action part of the framework programme. While the indirect actions are the main mechanism for developing and testing new ideas, the JRC's role is to help apply them in the service of the policy-maker. The two selection criteria for JRC activities are: relevance to common policies and subsidiarity implying that JRC research must be in an area where Union involvement is appropriate. The JRC provides notably support where it has special or even unique expertise and facilities in the EU or where it is entrusted with activities necessary for the framing and implementation of common policies and tasks incumbent on the Commission pursuant to the Treaty which require impartiality, notably standardisation activities [see section 6.2.3]. Thus, JRC operates in areas where its unique pan-European identity provides an added value to European R & D. The JRC carries out two research programmes: one for the European Union and the other for the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
The JRC activities in the Horizon 2020 Programme focus on the Union policy priorities and the societal challenges addressed by them. These activities are aligned with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, and with the headings 'Security and citizenship' and 'Global Europe' of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 [Regulation 1311/2013, see section 3.4]. The JRC's key competence areas are energy, transport, environment and climate change, agriculture and food security, health and consumer protection, information and communication technologies, reference materials, and safety and security (including nuclear safety and security in the Euratom programme). The JRC activities in these areas are conducted taking into account relevant initiatives at the level of regions, Members States or the Union, within the perspective of shaping the European Research Area (ERA).
The nuclear direct actions of the JRC aim at: (a) improving nuclear safety including: nuclear reactor and fuel safety, waste management including final geological disposal as well as partitioning and transmutation; decommissioning, and emergency preparedness; (b) improving nuclear security including nuclear safeguards, non-proliferation, combating illicit trafficking, and nuclear forensics; (c) increasing excellence in the nuclear science base for standardisation; (d) fostering knowledge management, education and training; and (e) supporting the policy of the Union on nuclear safety and security.