Europe Must Keep Science at the Heart of Policy Making

Much has been said in the media and in the scientific community about the incoming European Commission President’s decision not to renew the role of Chief Scientific Advisor. Taken at face value, that would certainly be a backward step. For the Commission to ignore science in its policymaking would be nothing short of catastrophic, as many have said. However, at this stage, I would like to remain cautiously optimistic.

Not renewing the role of Chief Scientific Advisor is part of a larger reorganization of the way in which the Commission seeks to ensure that it has impartial advice on issues influencing policy. What Mr Juncker has done does not – yet – equate to removing science from the policy agenda. He has chosen to close the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, of which the Chief Scientific Advisor was a part, and replace it with a new European Political Strategy Centre that will advise the Commission on economics, social affairs, sustainable development, foreign affairs, institutions and communications: many of which, curiously, are underpinned by science. What Mr Juncker has not yet said is how the Commission will receive its scientific advice, and that is something I am eagerly waiting to hear.

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