Metrology in Support to Precautionary Sciences and Sustainable Development Policies (METROPOLIS)

The METROPOLIS project: an innovative approach to research networking towards a better European-wide environmental monitoring.

Funded by: European Commission, DG Research – 5th Framework Programme

Contr. No. G6RT-CT-2002-05095



24 mesi



Thirty two institutes, universities, or enterprises from 17 countries, with the co-operation of four pan-European organizations, including CEN (the European standards Organization), and of two Institutes of the Joint Research Center of the EC are going to pave the way towards the creation of the European Research Area in the field of environmental and precautionary sciences. The network will play a major role in the successful design and implementation of sustainable development policies.

The 24 month project, funded under the Competitive and Sustainable Growth Programme of the Vth European Research Programme, co-ordinated by INERIS, the French National Institute responsible for environmental risks, is a unique attempt to address the environmental issues with a fully transversal and inter-disciplinary approach. Across the environment’s compartments, air, water, soil it will cover all the way from the metrology questions related to the performance of measurement and sampling strategies, to the problems of effective transmission, processing and modelling of measurement results into databases and geographic information systems. The final objective will be the optimal expression and correct interpretation of results, in the light of estimated uncertainties. It will also respond to the requirements of decision makers, or where necessary deliver the information needed by the citizens.

There are several benefits to be drawn from this approach. It will accelerate and expand the diffusion of state of the art scientific practice in environmental monitoring across Europe, and particularly in future Member States. It will contribute to identify rapidly knowledge gaps or simply technological or methodological demands and facilitate the emergence of coherent research projects to fulfil the needs.

It will assure the availability of a much needed force of expertise, both harmonious and aware of the overall need of coherence of the European-wide environmental scientific systems. It will become a major player in the efficient development and operational implementation of European policies, technical or economic regulations, or standards. In this context, the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission will also be following closely the evolution of the project, and seek the support of the METROPOLIS network for some priority strategic developments(1).

The scientific organizations which play a leading role in the seven work-packages of the project will also seek to foster a Network of Excellence within the structure of the incoming VI Research Framework Programme, in order to pursue the fulfilment of Europe’s science and expertise needs in the field of environmental monitoring.


The quality and security of the environment, and the minimisation of its impact on public health and safety  constitute key expectations of European citizens, and a precondition for the successful implementation of all sustainable growth policies. In each European state, a number of research institutes, universities and private structures are currently  involved in developing techniques, technologies and methodologies in order to provide the measurement capacity which is necessary in order to implement public policies and regulations, to give companies the visibility they need on their achievements, and to provide feedback information to the public (e.g.: scale of atmospheric pollution in a given city).

The 38 METROPOLIS partners have identified the following five key objectives for a 2 year thematic network project:

  • Identify and promote state of the art techniques and methodologies, through a bench marking approach carried out in specific working groups of experts;
  • Provide guidance to practitioners, and disseminate reference information and data, in priority through electronic media (web-site, data bases, …);
  • Improve the level of mutual confidence between all players involved, and the dialogue between scientists and end-users of measurement results, by exploiting the transversal nature of this Network, and the complementarity of its membership;
  • Identify gaps in knowledge, technologies, and methodologies, and facilitate where appropriate the elaboration of research programmes in order to fill such gaps. Working groups (WG) will hold seminars on these issues, and, reports to EC authorities will be  one of the outputs of this activity;
  • Progress towards the achievement of the European Research Area, by consolidating the links between the keys European lnstitutes and universities, and establishing the feasibility of a “Network of Excellance” under the rules of the future Framework Programme VI. A report and a proposal will be produced at the end of the 2 year period;

Six priority areas have been chosen for the concrete implementation of these objectives:

  • Biomonitoring techniques;
  • Analitycal chemistry and reference materials;
  • On-line measurements and data transfer;
  • Quality assurance and uncertainty assessment;
  • Standardization;
  • Communication of measurement results and support to decision making processes.


WP1: Bio-monitoring

To coordinate a WP with the following tasks: to define the state of the art in the field of bio-monitoring, to locate relevant knowledge gaps, to establish new guidelines and to disseminate information to the members of the network. It is expected that the participants contribute and benefit from the involvement.

To establish a data bank that contains validated and approved methods for bio-monitoring focussing on endocrine disruptors and Bioaccumulating Toxicants (aromatic hidrocarbons)

  • To locate sources for reference material;
  • To disseminate information via internet with restricted access;
  • To produce guidelines on safety implications for team work;
  • To start planning for future laboratory workshops.
WP-2: Methods in analytical chemistry and reference materials
  • To improve and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise in the field of metrology and the role of reference and materials in chemical measurements and to promote these activities through the organization of intensive training courses;
  • To extend the flow of knowledge on the state of the art measurement techniques and methodologies applied in environmental, health and safety applications;
  • To assess the current legislation for some selected high priority analytes in the environment, food and health (speciation and fractionation of trace elements, multi-residue analysis) and in support to industry in EU states and outside EU;
  • To enable the participants to contribute and benefit from their involvement and to disseminate the results to all interested parties including those from the industry and legislative bodies.
WP-3: On line measurements and data transfer

 To support the efficient use of:

  • on-line measurement systems
  • data transfer systems
  • data evaluation/presentation systems for environmental protection and sustainable development
WP-4: Quality assurance and uncertainty assessment

To co-ordinate activities among participants in order:

  • To develop a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) on the web site of METROPOLIS dealing the main topics of ISO/IEC 17025 in its implementation in environmental analysis laboratories;
  • To identify specific diffuculties for uncertainty estimation in the field of environmental measurements.i.e. limit of detection, limit of quantification, uncertainty of measurements with very low concentration;
  • To prepare a European workshop in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory;
  • To identify the different organisations and laboratories;
  • To identify the producers of reference materials applicable in environmental analysis;
  • To identify the organisations dealing with proficiency testing in environmetal analysis.
WP-5: Standardization

To co-ordinate activities among participants in order:

  • To identify the different CEN and ISO’s relevant activities and actors;
  • To inform all the members of the Network about the needs in the field of pre-normative research;
  • To exchange informations.
WP-6: Communication of result support to the decision making

To co-ordinate activities among participants in order:

  • To avoid the divorce between the requested and delivered analytical information;
  • To define the key factors influencing the efficient communication of analytical data;
  • To define what is expected from the laboratory in terms of information to make well founded decision in social, economic and industrial areas.
WP-7: Management Co-ordination

To co-ordinate activities among participants in order:

  • To carry out the administration of the Network and oversee its management;
  • To provide the internal and external communication infrastructure and resources;
  • To promote the Network and liaise with other interested partners;
  • To initiate the steps towards the creation of a Network of Excellence;
  • To report to DG Reseach.


  • University of Munich – GERMANY
  • CNR Institute of Environmental Pollution (CNR-IIA)- ITALY
  • University of Pau – FRANCE
  • University of Münster – GERMANY
  • HSL – UK
  • NPL – UK
  • EI – JRC
Advisory Group: Representatives of European organizations
CEN: European Committee for Standardization
EEP:European Environmental Press
ESR&DA: European Safety Reliability and Data Association
ENERO: European NetWork of Environmental Research Organizations

J. Repussard

Project Coordinator

INERIS, France

Gruppo di lavoro

K-W Schramm

GSF, Germany

Nicola Pirrone

CNR IIA, Italy

O. Donald

University of Pau, France

E. Rosenberg

TUWIEN, Austria

W. Buscher

University of Münster, Germany

H. Balmforth


O. Hov

NILU, Norway

M. Milton


A. Medem

UBA, Germany

A. Pirlet

CEN, Belgium

A. Borowiak,

EI - JRC, Italy

I. Kozine

RISOE, Denmark