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Scientists meet MEPs: a relation based on trust

Written by Zsolt G. Pataki with Riccardo Molinari,

Scientists meet MEPsTo promote the role of science in ensuring a sound basis for public policies and political decisions, the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) organised ‘Science Week at the European Parliament’, between 5-7 February 2019, in cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the European Research Council (ERC). The week of scientific events encompassed the ‘Brussels Week’ of STOA’s MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, the JRC’s ‘Science meets Parliaments’ event, a European Science-Media Hub (ESMH) workshop on ‘Tackling misinformation and disinformation in science’, and a STOA/ESMH-ERC Conference entitled ‘Investing in researchers, shaping Europe’s future’. The aim of these events was to strengthen the structured dialogue between scientists and policy-makers, to raise awareness about politically relevant, cutting-edge scientific issues and the importance of science for evidence-informed policy-making.

STOA and the JRC jointly launched the ‘Science meets Parliaments’ initiative in 2015 at the European Parliament (EP). This year’s event marked the official opening of the EU pilot project Science meets Parliaments/Science meets Regions. The event discussed how science could play a bigger role in 21st century policy-making and a number of other topics, ranging from how artificial intelligence may influence our lives to building resilient societies and engaging citizens in decision-making. An accompanying exhibition focused on migration, resilience, mobility, fairness and digital transformation.

Scientists meet MEPsA high-level session moderated by Vladimír Šucha, Director-General of the JRC, featured statements by representatives of major stakeholders, including Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; Jerzy Buzek, Chair of the ITRE Committee; Mady DELVAUX, EP rapporteur on ‘Civil rules on robotics’, Ashley FOX, EP rapporteur on a ‘Comprehensive European industrial policy on artificial intelligence and robotics’, and Paul RÜBIG, STOA First Vice-chair.

During this ‘Science Week’, 13 paired scientists in the framework of the MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme had an opportunity to follow their MEP counterparts in their daily political activities, and gain an understanding of the EU science, technology and research policy framework, including, in particular, EP work in this area. The feedback from participating scientists and Members suggests that the Pairing Scheme was very well received, and that all participants would recommend the scheme to their colleagues. Members gained an insight into specific areas of scientific research and developed their understanding of how scientists might support policy-making. In fact, regular editions of the scheme increase its impact as more Members and scientists are offered the opportunity to participate in the pairing experience. Several participants stressed the value of the scheme and how it has helped them gain insights into increasingly important areas both in the European Union and globally.

Scientists meet MEPsIn parallel, the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH) workshop on ‘Tackling misinformation and disinformation in science’ provided for an exchange of good practices in tackling misinformation and disinformation in science, via the presentation of case studies, illustrating relevant initiatives touching upon different science disciplines.

The conference entitled ‘Investing in researchers – Shaping Europe’s future’ brought policy-makers and ERC-funded grantees together, with the aim of supporting evidence-informed policy-making and underlining how Europe’s future can be shaped by fundamental research on topics ranging from smart agriculture and food, via CRISPR, to migration and demography.

About Scientific Foresight (STOA)

The Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) carries out interdisciplinary research and provides strategic advice in the field of science and technology options assessment and scientific foresight. It undertakes in-depth studies and organises workshops on developments in these fields, and it hosts the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH), a platform to promote networking, training and knowledge sharing between the EP, the scientific community and the media. All this work is carried out under the guidance of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA), composed of 25 MEPs nominated by nine EP Committees. The STOA Panel forms an integral part of the structure of the EP.

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