The ‘CONCERT-European Joint Programme for the Integration of Radiation Protection Research’ under Horizon 2020 is operating as an umbrella structure for the research initiatives jointly launched by the radiation protection research platforms MELODI, ALLIANCE, NERIS and EURADOS. CONCERT is a co-fund action that aims at attracting and pooling national research efforts with European ones in order to make better use of public R&D resources and to tackle common European challenges in radiation protection more effectively by joint research efforts in key areas.
Back in 2009, the European High Level and Expert Group (HLEG) identified key policies and scientific questions to be addressed through a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for low dose radiation risks. Subsequently, institutions active in radiation protection research in Europe have founded the European Research Platform MELODI. Major outcome of MELODI is the development of an SRA in low dose risk research and the recommendation of short to medium term research priorities. Similar activities in the fields of radioecology and nuclear emergency preparedness led to the establishment of the research platforms ALLIANCE and NERIS, respectively. Today CONCERT is in a position, to integrate the research efforts off all these platforms (EURADOS as a long-standing organisation joined the platform family) under one umbrella structure, to jointly address common research needs in radiation protection and to organize funding of research projects.
In 2014, several Member States formed the CONCERT consortium. CONCERT was granted a five-year funding from the European Commission to establish this umbrella structure based on the strategic work already done in the fields of low dose risk research (MELODI), radioecology (ALLIANCE), nuclear emergency preparedness (NERIS), dosimetry (EURADOS) and medical radiation protection.
In June 2015, CONCERT finally started its work. The Federal Office of Radiation Protection (BfS) in Germany coordinates CONCERT. The Management Board consists of 28 National Programme Managers and Programme Owners from 22 EU Member States plus Norway and the four already mentioned EURATOM Research Platforms. CONCERT is organized in seven Work Packages, three mainly concerned with joint programming and organsing as well as administering open research calls, three dedicated to integrative activities such as access to research infrastructure, education and training and stakeholder involvement as well dissemination and finally one on coordination of CONCERT itself.
By joint programming, defining joint research priorities and road mapping CONCERT is guiding radiation protection research in Europe. This joint effort is performed with a strategic perspective on supporting excellent science, on building and maintaining high competence in radiation and radiation protection science as well as further promoting integrative and multidisciplinary research on a European level. CONCERT contributes to the sustainable integration of European and national research programmes in the field of radiation protection. A crucial step is, of course, to initiate and fund concerted joint research actions.
Based on the platform SRAs and joint programming, CONCERT will develop research priorities, align them with priorities from participating Member States and will seek further input from society and stakeholders. It will reach out to engage the wider scientific community in its projects, aiming to answer the needs in radiation protection for the public, occupationally exposed people, patients in medicine, and the environment.
CONCERT will support the implementation of the revised European Basic Safety Standards by giving best possible advice based on evidence from research.
Aim of CONCERT is to set in motion the convergence of the three focusing forces scientific community, national agencies and research institutions, and EURATOM policies in order to achieve new breakthroughs in radiation protection research.
CONCERT strives for a better integration of the radiation protection scientific community at the EU level, leading to a better coordination of research efforts and the provision of more consolidated and robust science based policy recommendations to decision makers in this area. In the long-term, these efforts will translate into additional or improved practical measures in view of the effective protection of people and the environment.
Within CONCERT two major open RTD calls of approximately 10 M€ in spring 2016 and 7 M€ in spring 2017, respectively, will be launched. Universities and research institutes from all over Europe have the opportunity to join in research consortia and submit proposals. CONCERT as a co-fund action (70% EC and 30% national funding) is aiming at integrating national and European research programmes.
Next to research, education and training activities closely linked to research will be carried out by CONCERT to build and maintain the high level of competence in radiation sciences and radiation protection in Europe. In addition, CONCERT will make best use of the available research infrastructure in Europe, mainly by enhancing the visibility of infrastructures and facilitating access to them. Finally yet importantly, CONCERT has the mission to further reduce uncertainties in the assessment and management of radiation risks to the environment and to humans by targeted science. To achieve this CONCERT will initiate an open exchange of knowledge and information between science, regulation and society.
CONCERT is open to new national Programme Owners and Programme Managers at any time.