EU wants a panel o'boffins to replace solo science advisor

Evidence-based policy advice, free of institutional bias? There's an idea

Following widespread criticism of his decision to axe the role of chief science advisor (CSA), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced that a seven-strong panel will be set up to take its place.

Last November, former CSA Anne Glover revealed that her job – which has existed since 2012 – was scrapped seemingly as a result of pressure from green groups, who disapproved of Glover’s stance on GM crops.

During a lunch with internationally renowned scientists, including Sir Paul Nurse, Jules Hoffmann, Serge Haroche, László Lovász, Jean Tirole and Edvard Ingjald Moser, Juncker said that the Commish would not lack independent scientific expertise and that the EU's research, science and innovation commissioner, Carlos Moedas, will get a panel in place by the autumn.

Juncker said he wants the best scientific advice to complement in-house services. According to a Commission statement, that advice will “bring together evidence and insights from different disciplines and approaches, independent of institutional or political interests”.

“The new model for independent scientific advice will contribute to the Commission's continued pursuit of the best possible evidence-based policy. This will be a significant step forward for an effective European Commission that delivers for citizens,” said Moedas, sounding an awful lot like former Commish president José Manuel Barroso, when he announced Glover’s job back in 2011. Plus ça change. ®

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