Earlier this week European Commission President Juncker met with several scientists along with Commission Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Katainen and the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Moedas. The meeting was to discuss methods for the Commission to handle scientific advice. The current President opted not to continue with a chief scientific adviser position, and for now has endorsed a plan from Commissioner Moedas that is, as Roger Pielke suggests, open to future problems.
What details are publicly available are currently limited to this slide deck. It lists two main mechanisms for science advice, a high-level group of eminent scientists (numbering seven), staffing and resource support from the Commission, and a structured relationship with the science academies of EU member states. The deck gives a deadline of this fall for the high-level group to be identified and stood up.
At first glance, this would appear to be more of an effort to leverage existing expertise, both within the Commission and the member states, than an effort to build a new source of advice. That is, absent serious resourcing from the Commission, this high-level group seems likely to be able to do little more than make use of connections with other groups to transmit relevant advice to Commissioner Moedas, who would then communicate things to other Commissioners.
Perhaps that’s all the Commission (or at least the Commission under the current President) needs. In the deck the need for this new advice mechanism is described as something to “provide timely, independent, high level scientific advice to meet needs across all policy areas.” It will augment existing entities like the Joint Research Centre, the Research 2020 programme, and other advisory groups and outside experts. The Commission may use this high-level group more as a conduit than a source for policy advice. A reasonable question to ask is whether or not the high-level group can meet the Commission’s expectations, and those of the scientific community with which it is expected to work. I don’t have enough details to make even an uneducated guess on that.