The post - which will come with a salary just shy of €200,000 - has not even been advertised, despite all EU commissioners having formally backed Barroso's plan to create the new position.
Debate has been ongoing over the precise role of the chief scientific advisor, with some in the research sector hoping the position would be independent of political institutions, while others suggesting the scientist would merely be one of many counsellors to the Commission president (EurActiv 09/12/09).
It now seems the latter scenario is more likely. EurActiv has learned that the chief scientist will be given an office in the Commission's Berlaymont building and will slot into the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA), reporting directly to Barroso.
Although the job has not been advertised and there is no immediate plan to do so, the Commission has agreed that the ideal candidate should have "appropriate professional experience of at least 15 years" and will be paid the same rate as a director-general.
The so-called 'AD 15' pay grade ranges between €14,672 and €16,600 per month. The appointment is expected to be for the duration of the mandate of the Barroso Commission, inextricably linking the post to the political cycle and meaning the first scientist to take up the role can expect a contract of no more than four years.
"The chief scientific advisor will be appointed by President Barroso in the near future. On 9 March 2010, the College decided to create, for the duration of the present Commission's term of office, the post of chief scientific advisor. The decision on the filling of this post has not been taken yet," a spokesperson told EurActiv.