Since 1980 the ALARA principle has been part of the European Basic Safety Standards and has been progressively introduced into national regulations. In the Euratom Directive 96-29 ALARA was re-emphasised as the cornerstone of the radiological protection system. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s ALARA was integrated into many organisations radiation protection programmes, particularly in the nuclear industry. However there was still much to be done especially in the non-nuclear industry as well as for the management of internal exposure.
Therefore in 1996 the European Commission created a European ALARA Network (EAN), to further specific European research on topics dealing with optimization of all types of occupational exposure, as well as to facilitate the dissemination of good ALARA practices within all sectors of the European industry and research. CEPN (Centre d'étude sur l'Evaluation de la Protection dans le domaine Nucléaire, France) took on the role of the Network Coordinator with NRPB (National Radiological Protection Board, UK) providing support. The key outputs were to be twice yearly Newsletters and an annual themed Workshop that was to provide recommendations to the EC and other stakeholders involved in radiation protection.
During 9 years, the EC provided various tranches of funding to enable the Network to establish itself:
- The EAN was set up following a request of EC DG Research in its fourth framework program of research and development (1996 – 2000) - Network report period 1996-1999 (pdf);
- Support was continued during the 5th Framework Programme (FPRD 2001-2004) - Network report period 2001-2004 (pdf);
- EC DG Environment supported financially the first three Workshops; the financing of the following Workshops was included in the research project of the fifth FPRD;
- EC DG Environment also provided some funding during a 12 months interim period between the 4th and 5th FRPD.
In June 2005, after these 9 years spent within the scope of the research programs from the European Commission, the EAN Steering Group unanimously adopted a Cooperation Charter, the Terms and Conditions of the EAN, for defining the new goals and means for the next decade. The Steering Group also decided to set up a legal entity for managing the network coordination and financing in a self sustainable way. This legal entity was set up for an initial period of 5 years in July 2005 as a not for profit association called “Réseau ALARA Européen – European ALARA Network, EAN” registered under the French law.
In 2010, the EAN Steering Group decided to extend the duration of the EAN association for another period of 5 years. In parallel, it was also decided to renew the Statutes and the Terms and Conditions of EAN to take into account feedback experiences of the network's operation. Finally, the EAN Steering Group also agreed on a Strategic Plan for 2010-2015, which described the expected work of EAN during this period taking into account the future challenges of the practical implementation of ALARA.