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European Young Academies criticise disbanding of Chief Scientific Adviser in open letter to the President of the EU Commission


In an initiative led by the Young Academy of Sweden, with support from the Young Academies of Europe, Scotland and Poland, an open letter has been sent to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. The letter criticizes the decision to abolish the position of Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA).

Read the full letter here.

The letter stresses that the establishment of the post of CSA by President Barroso in 2012 was an important step forward to augment the quality of the European Commission’s decision-making process. Consideration of scientific results and thinking plays a pivotal role in identifying threats and creating policies that improve people’s lives. The Academies also expresses concern that disbanding the office of the CSA followed an intense campaign from interest groups whose opinions were disfavoured by scientific assessments made by the CSA.

Finally the Academies emphasizes the importance of EU policy being informed by independent scientific advice, and asks President Juncker to reinstall the CSA or a corresponding function as soon as possible.

Juncker’s new centre does not include a Chief Scientific Adviser

In November Juncker announced that a new centre – European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) – would replace the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) where the CSA Anne Glover has been part. The new policy-oriented centre does not include a CSA; a fact the Academy considers a significant degradation.

Intense debate preceded the disbanding
The disbanding of the office of the CSA followed an intense campaign from interest groups. During a six month period several lobbying organizations with Greenpeace in the forefront have expressed critique in letters to Juncker about the concentration of power to only one person in the CSA function. Many, however, perceive the critique as a reaction to the fact that some of the writers opinions were disfavoured by scientific assessments made by the CSA. A large number of scientific organizations in turn responded to the criticism, arguing that the CSA is crucial for introducing current scientific understanding into the Commission’s decision-making.

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Sotiria Grek is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh. She works in the area of Europeanisation of education policy with a particular focus on transnational policy learning, knowledge and governance. She has co-authored (with Martin Lawn) ‘Europeanising education: governing a new policy space’ (2012, Symposium) and recently co-edited (with Joakim Lindgren) 'Governing by Inspection’ (2015, Routledge).

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