To provide research and technical support for the continued institution of harmonized systems of measurements, reference materials and written standards, essential to ensure the efficient operation of the Single Market and other Community policies and the competitiveness of European industry.
This specific programme on standardization, measurement and testing forms part of the Fourth Framework Programme, Activity I "Industrial technologies". The programme builds on the achievements various phases of the BCR programme and of related activities under previous Framework Programmes.
The programme's activities are geared towards the realization of the following goals:
- To improve the competitive position of all sectors of European industry (particularly SMEs) by promoting better measurements at the research and development levels, better definition and control of the quality of products, more efficient in-process measurements and technical assistance to the mutual recognition of certificates, in accordance with the Global Approach to Conformity Assessment;
- To promote the research and other technical support necessary for the development and implementation of Community policies (e.g. Single Market environment agriculture health transport and protection of the Community's external boarders);
- To promote research in support of the activities of CEN, CNELEC, ESTI and other European bodies which seek to maintain or establish quality standards through written standards or codes of practice;
- To support the further development of the European measurement infrastructure by facilitating the coordination of national activities, the development of measurement standards, of advanced methods and systems, and the mutual recognition of results and accreditation systems;
- To promote the dissemination and application of good measurement practice through out Europe particularly in the less favoured regions (e.g. organization of training courses establishment of networks etc.).
Within the industrial field, emphasis is placed on providing the technical support to improve the interface between standards and regulatory issues and the design, assembly and quality of products.
Progress in the area of mutual recognition of conformity certificates will facilitate the recognition of national accreditation and audit systems and remove existing barriers to intra-Community trade, caused by the frequency with which enterprises still have to certify their products or services in other Member States.
The programme's activities will support the continuation of New Approach type Directives used to establish the Single Market. These specify the essential requirements of the measure which must be met and allow compliance to be demonstrated in a number of ways, the most direct of which is by the use of written standards. Community research will develop the thousands of written standards to be prepared by CEN, CENELEC and ESTI under Commission mandates before the end of the decade.
There is close collaboration between the programme's activities and the other specific programmes, in particular those covering Industrial and Materials Technologies, Environment and Climate, Marine Science and Technologies, Biotechnology, Biomedicine and Health, Agriculture and Food Technologies, and Targeted Socio-Economic Research.
To facilitate the multi-sectoral approach pursued by the programme, it will be necessary to establish additional thematic networks of excellence.
Measures aimed at strengthening the meteorological infrastructure at the European level will be carried out in consultation with existing networks of national laboratories, such as EUROMET, EURACHEM, EUROLAB, WECC, and WELAC.
Research conducted by the Joint Research Centre in support of the programme will, for the most part, be undertaken within the framework of networks of European bodies with interests and capabilities in this type of research and in close association with European standardization organizations.
The JRC will also conduct prenormative research in the field of structural safety and reliability aimed at improving the design specifications of civil engineering works for the development of standards (EUROCODES), taking into account earthquakes and the construction technologies of European industries. This research will continue to be conducted with the organizations in the Member States which have been grouped together since 1989 in the European Association of Structural Mechanics Laboratories.
The distribution of reference materials produced within the Community is assured by the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM).The IRMM will provided all interested laboratories in the Community with an impartial and reliable evaluation of the quality of their measurements. This service will be extended, on a fee paying basis, to laboratories located in third countries.
Technology stimulation measures based on the experience of CRAFT activities and Feasibility Awards are included to encourage and facilitate participation of SMEs and the less advanced regions of the Community in the programme's activities.
Three themes: - Measurements for quality European Products: To support European industry in its efforts to improve its competitiveness by means of research, notably by using the results of the research to produce quality products at the right time and price: . Development of measurement methods and instrumentation required by researchers to investigate and utilize the physical, chemical and biological phenomena at the macro- and microscopic levels from which future products could be developed; . Development of generic measurement methods and instrumentation required in the course of product development; . Development of generic measurement and testing methods and instrumentation required for production to improve product quqlity/production cost ratios; - Research related to written standards and technical support to trade: To provide the scientific research necessary for the establishment of directives, written standards and measurements, within such European frameworks as CEN/CENELEC, EUROMET, EUROCHEM, EUROLAB, EOTC, WELAC, and WECC: . Pre-normative and applied research for the support of European legislation; . Pre-normative research and direct support to industry; . Promotion of a European measurement infrastructre; . Technical support to mutual recognition and accreditation; . Measurements required by customs laboratories; - Measurements related to the needs of society: To develop and improve the measurement methods necessary to assure the quality of life and for the application of Community policies, other than trade and industry: . Measurements related to health and safety; . Measurement related to the monitoring of the environment; . Measurements required by the judicial systems; . Measurements in support of European cultural heritage.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, assisted by an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission. The Commission is to draw up an initial work programme, detailing the scientific and technological objectives of the action, the stages in the programme's implementation and the corresponding financial arrangements. This work programme may provide for participation in certain activities within the EUREKA framework. Calls for proposals for RTD projects are issued by the Commission on the basis of the work programme. Participation in the programme's activities is open to all legal entities regularly carrying RTD in the Community or in European states with whom the Community has concluded an agreement. The Commission is authorized to negotiate cooperation agreements with European third countries not covered by the EEA, with a view to involving them in all or part of the programme. Provisions are made for pursuing international cooperation within the framework of international organizations, where appropriate. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) may participate in the indirect activities covered by the programme. It will also contribute, through its own programme of direct activities, to the realization of the RTD objectives set out in the specific programme.
The programme is mainly implemented through shared-cost activities, concerted actions, specific measures, and various preparatory, accompanying and support measures. Community support for shared-cost activities, which include RTD projects and finance towards the infrastructure or installations necessary for the realization of a coordinated action, does not exceed 50% of total costs. Concerted actions, which mainly consist of the coordination through "concertation networks" of RTD projects already financed by public or private bodies, may qualify for a contribution of up to 100% of the concertation costs. Provisions are also made to support specific measures to supply short to medium term scientific and technical research for the development or application of Community policies, including actions to be undertaken in collaboration with standardization organizations such as CEN/CNELEC and ESTI.
The Community's financial contribution covers 100% of coordinating expenditure and up to 100% of the expenditure on the shared-cost activities. The programme budget is divided between the three activities as follows: Measurements for quality European products ECU 69 million; Research related to written standards and technical support to trade ECU 61 million; Measurements relating to the needs of society ECU 43 million. The breakdown between the different themes does not exclude the possibility that projects may come under several themes. The budget allocated to the programme may increase before the end of 1996, in accordance with the Decision establishing the Fourth Framework Programme. These figures include an allocation of 10.9% for staff and administrative expenditure and an allocation ofa maximum of 5% for preparatory, accompanying and support measures, of which a figure of ECU 2 million is included for the dissemination and utilization of results. Up to 10% is reserved for specific measures in support of SMEs. A sum of ECU 115 million, representing the difference between the amount deemed necessary for this programme and the amount foreseen in the Fourth RTD Framework Programme for Industrial and Materials Technologies (Standardization, Measurement and Testing), is earmarked for the specific RTD programme to be carried out through direct action and S&T support activities, in the framework of a competitive approach.
The Commission will continuously review the implementation of the programme to ensure that its objectives, priorities and financial resources remain appropriate. On the basis of this review process it shall, where appropriate, submit proposals to adapt or supplement the programme. In addition, regular assessments of the activities covered by the specific programme will be conducted by independent experts who, upon completion of the programme, will carry out a final evaluation of the results achieved compared to initial objectives. A report of this final evaluation will be communicated to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.