Scientific advice for policy is increasingly under attack, which is undermining trust in both science and policymaking. A new opinion from the European Commission’s Chief Scientific Advisors recommends a number of changes in scientific advisory processes, and proposes that these are formalised in a Code of Practice.
The new report published today, “Science Advice to European Policy in a Complex World”, is the seventh opinion by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors. Recommendations include:
-Bridging the gap between scientists, policy makers and the public through early engagement with policymakers to define questions jointly, and involving stakeholders and the public in the process of developing scientific advice.
-More rigorous quality control of the scientific evidence and of expert consultations that inform policy. The approach to conflict of interest for scientific experts should be improved to ensure transparency and consistency, e.g. through clear expert selection and exclusion criteria.
-Greater openness by scientific advisers to explain and communicate uncertainties in the scientific evidence and the reasons for diverging scientific views.
The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors handed over the opinion to Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, during their 19th plenary meeting in Brussels.
Commissioner Moedas said:
I am deeply concerned that the role of scientific advice in policy making is under attack at a time when good scientific evidence is so vital for well-informed policymaking. So I very much welcome this opinion, which also reflects the depth of experience the Chief Scientific Advisors have developed over the last years.
The opinion will be presented, on 26 September, to stakeholders and the public at the European Research and Innovation Days by Professor Pearl Dykstra, Deputy Chair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, and the chair of the SAPEA evidence review board, Professor Ortwin Renn.
The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, established in October 2015, supports the Commission with high-quality, timely and independent scientific advice for its policymaking activities. The Group comprises up to seven independent eminent scientists, appointed in their personal capacity.
The opinion builds on the advisors’ experience in recent years and the scientific evidence review report “Making sense of science for policy under conditions of complexity and uncertainty”, published in July 2019 by the Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) consortium.