05 January 2015

The Future of Science Advice in Europe

My latest Bridges column is out, and it discusses the future of science advice in Europe following the termination of the office of chief scientific advisor to the European Commission. Here is an excerpt:
In short, the CSA under President Barosso was largely powerless and disconnected. This state of affairs was not the fault of Glover, who took on the CSA role with energy and enthusiasm. The uncomfortable reality is that establishment of the CSA office was a symbolic gesture towards scientific advice, rather than representing any substantive commitment to improving science advice in Europe (see this paper for background).

From this perspective, President Juncker has actually done the scientific community a favor. For the past three years, most scientific organizations and their leaders seemed perfectly content with a symbolic, ineffectual CSA in the Commission. However, the termination of the office has forced a conversation that probably should have been occurring in far more prominent settings. Such a conversation is now underway (see, e.g., this special issue of the European Journal of Risk Regulation) and should continue.

President Juncker has yet to release details on how his administration is to structure advisory mechanisms, noting through a spokesperson: “President Juncker believes in independent scientific advice. He has not yet decided how to institutionalize this independent scientific advice.” However the Commission eventually structures its offices, a few issues will no doubt continue to be at the center of debates over science advice in Europe. Here I suggest several . . . 
Read it here.

Comments welcomed!