On two occasions during the past year, the European Physical Society has had the opportunity to meet with Prof. Anne Glover, the former Chief Science Adviser to the President of the European Commission. Our goal was not to promote a specific political agenda, but to ask how we could demonstrate and/or explain how physics contributes to policy objectives of the EC. Our discussions were fruitful, allowing us to better understand the role that the EPS could play in providing information to the EC for evidence based policy making.
The EPS sent a letter to the former EC President in July 2014, urging him and his successor to maintain the position of Chief Science Adviser, as “a more constructive dialogue between scientists and policy makers builds trust and leads to better understanding of the issues at stake”. This was one of a number of letters addressed to the European Commission in support of the position of the CSA (see for example Sense About Science).
In a press release from the EC dated 5 November 2014 “President Juncker presented today the new European Political Strategy Centre [EPSC], a revamped version of the former Bureau of European Policy Advisers. It will provide professional and targeted advice to the President and it will be organised around six teams (composed by up to six members): an Economic Team, a Social Affairs Team, a Sustainable Development Team, a Foreign Affairs Team, an Institutional Team and an Outreach and Communication Team.”
The consequence of this decision was the termination of the position of Chief Science Adviser. The EPS is concerned that this is a signal from the EC that it will move away from evidence based policy making. It is not apparent that the EPSC teams will be involved in soliciting or consulting with the scientific community for its input into policy making.
The appointment of Ann Mettler as head of the EPSC was announced on 1 December 2014 (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-2262_en.htm). The EPS sincerely hopes that she will continue to consult widely with scientists from all disciplines. The EPS would also like to encourage EC President JC Juncker to publicly re-affirm the importance of the scientific community and his commitment to evidence-based policy making.
Science and physics are the foundation of the European Research Area and the knowledge based economy. A constructive dialogue between scientists and policy makers is essential in developing appropriate policy responses to meet the grand challenges identified in H2020. The EC must develop adequate mechanisms quickly to allow this dialog.