RAS statement on the abolition of Europe's Chief Scientific Advisor
The new European Commission has abolished the position of its main scientific advisor, according to recent media reports. The RAS wishes to express its disappointment at this decision, which is likely to weaken the role of scientific evidence in EU governance and policy formulation.
The role, formally titled the Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission (CSA), provides independent scientific expertise and advice to the members of the EU's executive branch. The current CSA is Prof. Anne Glover CBE, who has held the post since it was created in 2012 amid calls to improve the provision of scientific advice to the EU.
The position of CSA has been abolished as part of a reorganisation of the European Commission under its new president, Jean-Claude Juncker. The CSA has been scrapped by Juncker despite recent statements of support for the role from numerous learned societies and assurances that he 'believes in independent scientific advice'. The announcement has been greeted with dismay by scientists.
Prof. Martin Barstow, the President of the RAS, said: "It is widely accepted that investment in scientific research is an important element of economic growth and that political decisions should be firmly evidence-based. Therefore it is enormously disappointing and worrying that the role of Chief Scientific Advisor to the European Commission has been abolished. This suggests that the commission does not understand or value the role of independent scientific advice, with potentially grave implications for the future EU science programme - in Horizon 2020 and the European Research Council - and for EU policy in general. I strongly encourage the Commission to reconsider the decision and re-instate this position."