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The Joint Research Centre

Published on 9 May 2022


Created in 1957 by article 8 of the Euratom treaty as Joint Nuclear Research Centre, the JRC has progressively extended its activities to other domains such as health, environment, security, agriculture, transports, economy or digital technology. It became fully one of the 33 general directorates of the European Commission at the beginning of the 90s. Now, JRC's main missions are the following:

  •        support the Commission services,
  •        contribute to take up main society challenges and to elaborate new tools, standards and methods,
  •        share its know-how with EU Member States, the scientific community and the international partners,
  •        support investments in innovation under the Horizon 2020 program,
  •        support the Union policies by conducting research works or trainings funded by Euratom on nuclear safety and security as well as safeguards and non-proliferation.

  • The JRC, as a general directorate of the European Commission, is placed under the responsibility of the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. The director general is assisted and advised by a Board of Governors.

Structure and activities

Within the European Commission, the JRC is tasked to bring a scientific and technical support to the Union and its Member States policies at every step of the political cycle (prospective, formulation, implementation and evaluation).

Sites et activités

Initially located in Ispra, Italy, the JRC has expanded and now consists of, in addition to its headquarters in Brussels, seven institutes in five Member States: Italy (Ispra), Germany (Karlsruhe), Netherlands (Petten), Belgium (Geel) and Spain (Seville).

Organigram and staff

The JRC has 3000 employees (of which 1500 permanent European civil servants supplemented by contractual civil servants, staff seconded from Member States ministries for a long term, PhD students or postdocs and trainees). Half of JRC staff consists of researchers.


The JRC is essentially funded by the EU Framework Programs for Research and Innovation.

Governing Board
The JRC operates as a European Commission general directorate. Yet, inherited from its past, it keeps a Governing Board in charge of advising the Director-General on matters related to strategy and to scientific, technical and financial management.

This Governing Board is composed of representatives from the 27 Member States and the 11 States associated to Horizon 2020. Board members also represent the interests of the JRC in their respective countries. They are nominated by the European Commission upon designation of the country's authorities and meet three times a year in plenary sessions. Hervé Bernard (CEA) is the French representative and currently the President of the Governing Board.

Scientific impact

The JRC has 42 large-scale scientific facilities, more than 140 online databases, information centres or observatories and has produced a hundred of nuclear, biophysical or economical models.

Every year, the JRC publishes around 1400 scientific papers.

Nuclear activities

The JRC nuclear activities are essentially carried out by 3 entities  : the Institute for Transuranium Elements (Karlsruhe and Ispra, 370 staff), the Directorate/Institute for Energy and Transport (Petten , 300 staff) and the Directorate/Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (Geel, 250 staff). The activities are distributed in 5 research areas: nuclear safety, nuclear safeguards and security, norms and standardisation, radiological emergency management and knowledge management.