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November 2014

Axing Europe's top science job is a step backwards

This is an article published in the New Scientist. You can read the full piece here.

So Jean-Claude Juncker, the new president of the European Commission, has scrapped the role of chief scientific adviser.

No one will now bring scientific scrutiny to the political decisions of the Commission, the body at the heart of European policy-making that affects half a billion citizens across 28 nations. The most senior European regulators and law-makers no longer have a link to the evidence base of the European research community.

What Juncker announced was the termination of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, which provided the commission's president, commissioners and directors-general with strategic advice. The chief scientific adviser role was based within this body. The replacement body Juncker proposes – the European Political Strategy Centre – does not include a similar science post.

The chief scientific adviser, working with scant resources and a lack of clarity, has only ever been a single thread rather than the many ropes that were needed. But the creation of the role was a recognition by policy-makers that science and evidence are tools for making better, more accountable policies. It was an aspiration, one which followed a series of directives that made little sense and were full of unintended consequences.

Continue reading at New Scientist