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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy. The JRC is a Directorate-General of the European Commission under the responsibility of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. The current Director General of the JRC is Stephen Quest, who took office on 01/05/2020, succeeding Vladimír Šucha. Its Board of Governors assists and advises the Director-General on matters relating to the role and the scientific, technical and financial management of the JRC.
Composed of strategy and coordination, knowledge production, knowledge management and support directorates, the JRC is spread across six sites in five EU countries: in Belgium (Brussels and Geel), Germany (Karlsruhe), Italy (Ispra), the Netherlands (Petten), and Spain (Seville). Their responsibilities are:
The Italian Centre in Ispra originally belonged to the Comitato Nazionale per l'Energia Nucleare (CNEN) and was officially transferred to the Community on March 1, 1961. Since 1973, non-nuclear research evolved rapidly, especially in topics related to safety and the environment. In 1992, the results of a study led to a proposal to convert the JRC Ispra site into an environmentally-optimised model site; the "ECO Centre". At the beginning of the 1980s, re-examination of the mandate and evaluation of the activities of the JRC began. Future activities were to continue to support the Commission's implementations of Community policies. After 16 years of research, the nuclear reactor at JRC Ispra was shut down in 1983. The JRC employs around 2787 staff with an annual budget of 372,5 million euros for the year 2017.
The JRC research activities are clustered into ten science areas: