The European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Panel (known as STOA) has had its political leadership mandate renewed for the next two and a half years at a constituent meeting held during the recent European Parliament (EP) plenary session week in Strasbourg. On 22nd October 2014, MEPs appointed to the STOA Panel by parliamentary committees voted to elect Paul RÜBIG MEP, who hails from Upper Austria and is a member of the European People’s Party grouping in the EP, as the new Chairman of STOA. Paul Rübig will be supported in his role by three other MEPs drawn from other political groups in the EP. Eva KAILI, a newly elected MEP from Greece, was elected as First Vice-Chair of STOA, whilst Evžen TOŠENOVSKÝ MEP was elected as Second Vice-Chair. With the newly approved Juncker Commission now due to start work in November, and with Mairead McGuinness MEP, as the EP Vice-President responsible for STOA, the STOA Panel is well-placed to ensure MEPs are well informed of future technology trends and their potential impacts on society.

Equipping policy-makers for the future

STOA PANEL 2014Many issues that the EU faces have a profound scientific and technological dimension to them and, whilst technological innovation and scientific advancements may lie at the heart of economic growth, it is vital for legislators and policy-makers alike to appreciate the impact of such developments on our economy and indeed society as a whole. In this regard STOA plays a vital role as the European Parliament’s own Science and Technology Options Assessment body. In partnership with external contractors, but also using internal expertise, STOA is able to provide MEPs with an analysis of possible future scenarios for better anticipatory policy-making.

Following his election as Chairman, Paul Rübig summed up the important work of STOA and its relevance to the European policy-makers of tomorrow saying:

“Science and technological development change our world. Knowledge of future science and technology trends will support the policy-makers of today with scientific evidence, advice and resulting technological options to help future policy cope with such changes.”
 

STOA’s future activities

STOA’s core function is to produce detailed ‘options briefs‘ in order to equip Members with state-of-the-art policy-making knowledge as they develop and refine new and existing EU policy. STOA also has a busy schedule of workshops and its prestigious Annual Lecture, this year on the topic of neuroscience and featuring a 2013 Nobel Prize Winner, which help it to communicate the outcomes of its findings to MEPs and beyond. In a world which might have to accommodate 10 billion people by 2050, Paul Rübig also proposed five themes for STOA to focus on. These are detailed below and STOA welcomes input from all quarters to help it shape the priorities for MEPs as the European Parliament presses ahead with its re-launch into the latter half of the decade.

1. Ensuring mobility for 10 billion people – how can this be achieved?
2. The resource question – how can the world supply the necessary resources in the future?
3. Information and communication technology – what is the future for e-government and social networks?
4. A perfect life – what can we do to improve people’s health?
5. Communicating science – how can STOA help to ‘join the dots’ with scientists from around the globe?