Professor John Beddington, The U.K. Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, recommended in remarks with BBC News (H/T Nature News) that the European Union needs stronger scientific advice. He specifically recommended following the American model, oddly enough, pointing to President Obama’s “dream team” as a good example for Europe to follow. Professor Beddington was positive about the research support provided to the Commission, but feels that more “brutal” policy advice was needed.
Perhaps he didn’t want to appear self-serving, but it appears to me that the American model is not nearly as well suited to what Professor Beddington wants as the U.K. model is. Throughout the BBC News piece you’ll note descriptions of the British system (which includes scientific advisers in 17 different departments) as independent, proactive and sometimes irritating. While that certainly describes science policy advocates in this country, American science advisers are not set up to be independent or proactive. At least not those advisers with formal government positions. So I am a bit perplexed as why the less independent system would be advanced as the example to follow.