Written by Clare Ferguson,
Recent populist waves on both sides of the Atlantic have shown that that expert advice is more than ever distrusted and even flatly rejected. Will this trend continue next year? Or will people go back to considering evidence more thoroughly?
Like it or not, politicians make decisions on policies that affect us all. Surely it is better that they do this in full knowledge of the facts? EU policy-makers develop their decisions based on societal values, political considerations, and scientific knowledge. On this last aspect the Commission can request and receive advice from a High-level Group (HLG) of seven eminent scientists who report to the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. The seven scientists are likewise provided with the best scientific evidence available through the Scientific Advice Mechanism secretariat within the Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) for Research and Innovation, and through an EU-level consortium of scientific academies.
At the level of the European Parliament, science and technology options assessment is provided by the STOA panel, which helps Members to prepare for long-term impacts of science and technology on European society. STOA organises direct cooperation between scientists and Members in areas as diverse as robotics, space exploration and neuroscience.
With solutions to find to pressing and highly complex issues such as climate change and challenges to global food supplies, science-based evidence will continue to be a vital input to policy decisions in 2017.