The incentive to set up a pan-European research infrastructure for solid Earth science dates back more than 20 years. Initially, Belgium was involved indirectly in EPOS through the scientific expertise of the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB). In EPOS' Preparatory Phase (2010-2014), the ROB was active in the Working Groups "Seismological Observatories & Research Infrastructures" and "GNSS and other geodetic data".
ROB's Seismology-Gravimetry Department was involved as a consultant because of its expertise in earthquake monitoring and its contributions in seismological research. Since 2002, the ROB was a member of the VEBSN (European Virtual Broadband Seismic Network) project coordinated by ORFEUS (Observatories & Research Facilities for European Seismology). The VESBN project spearheaded the pan-European exchange of high-quality broadband seismological data between national research institutes and ORFEUS. ORFEUS, with ROB as a founding member and member of its board of directors, in turn, together with EMSC (European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre) and EFEHR (European Facilities for Earthquake Hazard and Risk), is one of three institutes that lies at the origin of EPOS. For many years ROB and ORFEUS have been collaborating to provide open access to seismic waveform data from the Belgian seismic network to the seismological research community through the ORFEUS Data Centre (ODC), one of the nodes within the European Integrated Data Archive (EIDA) in ORFEUS.
The GNSS Data & Products thematic discipline within EPOS is built on the EUREF Permanent GNSS Network (EPN), which provides standardized and open access to GNSS (meta)data and products from over 400 GNSS stations to maintain the European reference system ETRS89 for precise positioning. Since ROB manages the EPN Central Bureau, and has done so since the creation of EPN in 1996, it was important as co-chair of the GNSS Working Group in EPOS' Preparatory phase. Subsequently, this contribution led to the ROB-GNSS team's participation in the European EPOS-IP (Implementation Phase; 2015-2019) and EPOS-SP (Sustainability Phase; 2020-2023) projects that implemented and anchored the first EPOS services, respectively. The ROB-GNSS team was also responsible for setting up the legal, administrative and financial framework of the TCS GNSS Data & Products.
The Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) strongly encourages the contribution of federal scientific institutions to pan-European ESFRI research infrastructures such as EPOS. EPOS, part of the ESFRI roadmap since 2008, attained the legal status of ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) in 2018, with Belgium as one of its founding members. Consequently, through the EPOS-BE (2018-2023) and SERVE ESFRI-FED (2021-2024) projects, the ROB could optimize its international services to the needs of EPOS, develop new core tasks within EPOS, upgrade the GNSS and seismometer stations to modern standards, etc. Thanks to the stimulus provided by these BELSPO projects, the ROB was able to put itself forward as a supplier of core EPOS services and occupy a key position within EPOS.
In a later stage, the Belgian contribution to EPOS extended to other federal and regional research institutions and EPOS-BE became the collective name of all these contributions which are detailed on this EPOS-BE website.