Memorandum of Understanding
for the implementation of a European Concerted Research Action designated as

COST Action 261

Title "Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) in Distributed and Complex Systems"

The Signatories of this Memorandum of Understanding, declaring their common intention to participate in the Concerted Action referred to above and described in the Technical Annex to the Memorandum, have reached the following understanding:

1. The Action will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the document COST/400/94 "Rules and Procedures for Implementing COST Actions", the contents of which the Signatories are fully aware of.

2. The main objectives of the action are to co-ordinate and advance European research into this complex aspect of EMC with a view to facilitating solutions to the electromagnetic interference problems posed by the proliferation of electronic communications, information processing and control systems located in close proximity one to another as parts of a commercial, public service or domestic environment or a vehicle.

3. To this end a co-operative effort involving universities as well as telecommunication R&D establishments and industries is required.

4. The overall cost of the activities carried out under the Action has been estimated, on the basis of information available during the planning of the Action, at 48MEcus at 1997 prices.

5. The Memorandum of Understanding will take effect on being signed by at least five Signatories.

6. The Memorandum of Understanding will remain in force for a period of four years, unless the duration of the Action is modified according to the provisions of Chapter 6 of the document referred to in Point 1 above.



COST Action 261 "EMC in Complex and Distributed Systems"


A. Background

The European Union EMC Directive on EMC (89/336/EEC Council Directive ‘On approximation of laws of Member States relating to electromagnetic compatibility’ OJ No 139 25 May ‘89, pp 19-26) has focused considerable attention on achieving EMC in electronic products. The Directive came into force in January 1996 after a four year delay caused mainly by the lack of suitable measurement standards being in place. Without these standards the essential requirements of the Directive could not be guaranteed. During this period a substantial body of work has been accomplished and standards and design techniques to achieve EMC are reaching maturity. New work continues in all areas of EMC, but, in particular, it has become apparent that there is considerable concern amongst the industrial community about design and assessment techniques that will ensure that complex and distributed systems can achieve the required levels of compatibility.

To date most emphasis in EMC has been concerned with electronic systems that are relatively confined. A good example is an audio system with its tape player, CD player, tuner and amplifier. Many electronic systems are much larger than this. Here for example we may consider an aircraft with its multiplicity of avionics, communications systems, navigation systems and radar. To achieve EMC in an aircraft the aircraft must be considered as an electronic system in its own right. This is defined as a ‘complex system’. Aircraft manufacturers have rigorous and expensive EMC control plans to ensure that their products achieve EMC. They also maintain control over the maintenance of their products through the various regulatory controls inherent in the aviation business. In the wider context of electronic systems the controls present in the aviation industry are not in place; neither are the funds available to implement the control discipline. Such complex systems are also assembled by a variety of industrial sectors, none of which have the coherence of the aerospace sector. Knowledge is lacking and a more generic approach is needed to help with complex system design and certification.

A local area computer network with a large number of terminals is an example of a distributed system. Each PC and peripheral within the network may be compliant with the EMC Directive as a standalone device. When connected into the network and placed in a large building with other electronic systems, for example a distributed temperature and air-conditioning control system, and subjected to the radiation from a number of radio systems such as mobile ‘phones and security patrol transceivers, the individual device compliance may not necessarily be relied upon. Unlike the more confined systems, interference sources of this type are, in reality, ‘inside’ complex or distributed system.

Both the examples indicated above have similarities in the technical problems associated with achieving EMC. Companies are putting together products that fall into either or both categories and achieving compliance with the EMC Directive without the excessive expense and discipline of the aerospace industry is a problem. Increasingly companies are passing the EMC requirements on to their suppliers without any real idea of how these requirements affect the whole system performance. Within the UK for example, the problems of achieving EMC in complex and distributed systems are probably the most common technical issues raised at the Department of Trade and Industry sponsored regional EMC clubs. We have no reason to doubt that this is also the case in the rest of Europe.

Further afield, new a EMC framework for Australia has been developed and the Japanese and United States administrations are moving in parallel directions to that of the European Union for EMC legislation. There is clearly a need to encourage research and its co-ordination in this area. This COST action would facilitate this.

The electromagnetic spectrum which intended signals and unintended interference occupies is a natural resource of finite size. It is an unusual resource in as much as it can be fully utilised but is not consumed. When the utilisation ceases it is still there undiminished in quantity or quality. In many urban societies the utilisation is approaching saturation and any excess electromagnetic interference is a form of pollution which can have an immediate effect on our day to day lives. Although the pollution disappears when the interfering device is turned off, it is still significant when present, and in certain circumstances may be life threatening. Interference with safety equipment or emergency communications are examples of this situation. Thus the Action will have a significant environmental impact and promises, in its own way, to enhance our quality of life.


B. Objectives and Benefits

Electronic systems falling into the category of ‘distributed and complex systems’ are manufactured by many companies within the European Union. The principal objectives of this action are to encourage and co-ordinate research into the means by which the EMC performance of such systems can be ensured at the design stage and assessed during the prototype and manufacturing phases of the systems lifetime. The research will include both practical hardware aspects and numerical modelling.

These principal objectives will be achieved as follows and the success of the Action will be judged on the outcomes of the activities listed below.

The Action will undertake a census of current activities in this area and will aim to facilitate both further research as required and collaboration in research. A report of the census will be published at the end of the first year. An update on the census and the resulting collaborations will be reported annually to the TCT. The final census data will be included in the final report.

Research is required into the EMC aspects of the full system specification process and the sub-system specification and design process. Enhanced design guidelines will be the research outcomes. The results of this work will be published as workshop proceedings and a précis will be part of the final report.

Research is required into assessment methods at both sub-system manufacture and full system integration. Enhanced assessment procedures and measurement techniques will be the research outcomes. The results of this work will be published as workshop proceedings and a précis will be part of the final report.

The benefits of the Action will be as follows;

Collaboration between research teams will benefit all concerned. As the research is concerned with many aspects of electronic engineering collaboration between research institutes is advantageous. New research collaborations are to be encouraged within the Action.

The research will facilitate enhanced competitiveness of European manufacturers in all sectors of manufacturing industry using electronics as their products will cope better with the demands placed on them by European and other administrations EMC requirements.

If the Action is successful further benefits will accrue to individual industrial concerns and consumers. The former will be able to install complex and distributed electronic systems with greater confidence. The latter will be able to operate such devices as mobile ‘phones with fewer restrictions and disruptions.


C. Technical Programme

C.1 Research and Development Activities

The research and development activities of the Action will be concentrated into three areas as described below. Each will eventually be the focus of a working group.

Working Group 1; Appropriate description of interference sources and victims external to the complex or distributed system. This will include information on the appropriate frequency range to be examined, the power and vulnerability of the sources and victims and a statistical description of their numbers and location.


Working Group 2; Coupling of complex or distributed systems to nearby interference sources or victims. The coupling of the interference source/victim ensemble will be evaluated by numerical methods and measurements

Working Group 3; Derivation of suitable measurement techniques. Once the characteristics of the problem are known from the above, suitable measurement techniques can be evolved.

It is envisaged that participants in the Action will have research activity in at least one of the above areas. The Action will facilitate interchange of information, ideas and researchers such that the research effort in each of the three areas identified above will be strengthened. The areas are listed in order of development flow from initial problem to its solution. The Action will also facilitate information flow along this path through the collaboration within the Action.

C.2 Mode of Operation

C.2.1 Workshops

One of the tasks of the Management Committee following the initial establishment of the Action will be to organise a series of workshops initially on the themes of the three Working Groups in the order listed above. Eventually cross-group workshops will be organised to aid the information flow. At the planning stage it is not possible to identify the number timing or subject area(s) of the latter workshops as these will depend on yet to be established research synergies - one of the objectives of the Action.

The Workshops will be timed to coincide with Management Committee meetings and may also be associated with EMC Conferences in Europe. The workshops will be followed by published proceedings. The workshops will also act as a forum at which further collaboration and liaison technical visits will be arranged.

C.2.2 Technical Visits

Technical visits to facilities of interest to the Workshop attendees and Management Committee delegates will be arranged around the workshops where appropriate.




C.3 Final Report

A final report will be issued at the end of the Action detailing the activities completed. The report will contain sections as follows;


Initial Activity Census Précis

Working Group Reports

Workshop Reports

Activity Reports by Signatory Country.

Financial Summary

Conclusions and Achievements.

The report will be issued in the participating countries.


D. Organisation and Timetable

D.1 Organisation, Management and Responsibilities

The Management Committee will be responsible for co-ordinating all the activity within the Action and will take advice from the Technical Committee Telecommunications (TCT) to achieve liaison between this and other COST projects.

The Management Committee will meet every half year.

The management Committee will comprise delegates from the signatory countries.

The Management Committee will appoint Working Group Co-ordinators responsible for the activities of each group.

The Co-ordinators will initiate information collection by firstly, with the help of the national delegates, holding a census of appropriate existing EMC research projects relevant to the Action. The Co-ordinators will then be responsible for the overall activity of each working group assisted at a national level by management committee delegates.

The main means of research co-ordination and co-operation will be through workshops initiated by the Working Groups. From these, individual technical exchanges will be arranged. While the Management Committee will be kept informed about such exchanges as a means of monitoring the success of the Action, the Management Committee will not be primarily responsible for organisation of such exchanges.

The Management Committee will encourage participation in European Union funded research themes through its liaison activities and through encouraging the establishment of Thematic Networks. Nationally funded research projects will also be encouraged by opening avenues for advice and information transfer.


D.2 Timetable

A timetable for the action is given in Appendix 1. The Management Committee meetings are shown every six months as are the initial Workshops associated with each Working Group. Further Workshops will be organised as the Action develops. The arrows indicate information flow, the three Working Groups being numbered in chronological order of their main activities. It is however envisaged that each working group will have some activity from the outset of its formation.


E. Economic Dimension

Estimated number of signatories: 10

Cost per signatory per year:

5 person/year: Engineer, Researcher


7 person/year: Technician


5 person/year: PhD, Student, Secretary


Equipment and material costs




Total per signatory per year



Economic dimension:

Total over 4 years for all signatories


+ 10% overhead for running/operational costs


Total cost to national funds


EU overhead (over 4 years) 300KEcu


Economic Dimension: