European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced on Wednesday (27 February) the creation of an advisory group on science and technology, 13 months after the appointment of the Commission’s first scientific advisor.
The Science and Technology Advisory Council includes a cross-section of advisors – from universities, non-governmental groups and businesses. The council is to provide independent information and advice on an array of scientific and technology issues.
The creation of the council and the earlier appointment of a staff science advisor reflect both the Commission's increasing focus on science and technology to boost European competitiveness, but also a need to deal with political minefields such as genetically modified crops, biofuels and shale gas.
"Science and innovation are key drivers for European competitiveness, economic growth and the creation of new jobs,” Barroso said in a statement announcing the formation of the council.
“This Advisory Council will focus on science and technology related topics that are of cross-cutting nature, with a clear societal dimension. It will identify the issues of value where science, research and innovation can contribute to support future development in Europe," he said.
The 15-member panel includes experts from EU countries as well as Switzerland and Israel.
In a statement, the Commission said the council differs from other advisory bodies “in that it does not have a specific subject remit, but tackles issues that are of cross-cutting nature, with a clear societal dimension. It will operate in a proactive way, identifying topics of value and of interest to support future growth and development in Europe.”
In January 2012, Barroso announced the appointment of Anne Glover, a former professor of biology at the University of Aberdeen, as the Commission’s first chief scientific advisor. She served in the same capacity for Scotland from 2006-2011.
Her role is to bolster scientific evidence by saying things that politicians and officials are sometimes uncomfortable with, she told EurActiv last year. “The evidence with which I work is independent, the evidence with which I work does not change according to political philosophy,” she said. “And that should give people a lot of confidence.”
The advisory council members are: Alan Atkisson (Sweden), Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco (Italy), Victor de Lorenzo (Spain), Tamás F. Freund (Hungary), Susan M. Gasser (Switzerland), Søren Molin (Denmark), Joanna Pininska (Poland), Alexandre Tiedtke Quintanilha (Portugal), Ortwin Renn (Germany), Riitta Salmelin (Finland), Pat Sandra (Belgium), Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber (Germany), Roberta Sessoli (Italy), Cedric Villani (France) and Ada E. Yonath (Israel).