Reference activities: what’s cooking ? On 25 March 2017, Rome hosted the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, a crucial step of the European inte-gration process. This decision brought remarkable benefits to the citizens of Member States, e.g. in terms of peace, freedom of movement, trade op-portunities, health protection and social rights. Common policies for animal and plant health as well as for food, feed and drinking water safety were established, aiming to assure the same level of consumer protection and health promotion in all Member States. The European reference structure, organised into networks of official control laboratories sharing information and good practices with their respective National and European Union Re-ference Laboratories, was a key aspect of this goal. As time goes by, oppor-tunities arise to review the progress made and address the remaining gaps to be filled, as well as to take into account scientific developments providing both innovative solutions and new challenges.
EuroReference is fully involved in sharing and disseminating information in order to promote continuous development and harmonisation, as this se-cond issue of the journal, focusing on “Trends in Reference Activities at the European Union level”, aims to show. Two articles look at combining bio-technology and digital sciences to support European Union public health: one reports on the building of a database for molecular typing data on foodborne pathogens, and the other describes a multidisciplinary research network supporting an integrated joint platform for the detection and analysis of emerging infectious diseases and foodborne outbreaks in Europe. Harmo-nisation and standardisation, as key factors for uniform implementation of European Union legislation, have also been addressed in four other papers. Thus, a harmonised surveillance programme is presented that provides an overall picture of honeybee colony mortality within the European Union. The adoption of a national conversion system has led to a positive effect on the reproducibility of total bacterial counts in milk via automated instruments. A report on quality assessment procedures for biobank biological materials and reference specimens underpinned the importance of ensuring standard features and appropriate documentation. The experience of the French Plant Health Laboratory in developing methods within an accreditation framework with flexible scope was shared. Finally, the changes in regulations for the network of official, national and European Union reference laboratories with the release of the new regulation on official controls is also presented. We hope you will find these topics interesting and continue to be a reader and contributor to this journal.
Marina Patriarca & Umberto Agrimi