There is an increasing awareness that the research undertaken in Universities does not easily find its way into policy making. One reason given is that Science is targeting Web of Science publications and citations run by private publishing houses. Science is not written or even meant for policy makers. Yet, funders and Universities are under increasing pressure to show that their research has an impact on the economy, society and the environment in and outside of the EU. Academics note that Parliamentarians seem to be more interested in taking advice from consultants and political advisors on issues of the day, dictated by short term political cycles, rather than addressing medium and long term challenges that people and planet are facing. Bureaucratic sides of governments seem to have lost interest in academic inputs in policy agenda setting and implementation but this varies by country.
In a world hit by global financial crisis, disease, conflict over natural resources, migration and climate change, medium to long term planning needs to be more centre stage. Science, Technology and Innovation are the instruments of the much needed transformative change. The recent UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is very clear that we need a Science Policy Interface to be central to the implementation and monitoring and review of the SD Agenda. The High Level Political Forum will bring UN Major Groups and Political Leaders together to guide the Agenda and it will need Science to guide the process.
With a similar vision in mind the ‘MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme’ organised by the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament (EP) want dialogues to take place directly between Scientists and the MEPs.
We are in the fourth round of STOA’s ‘MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme’, which aims to promote a culture of science-based policy-making in the European Parliament by helping create lasting links between scientists and MEPs. The project raises awareness of politically relevant, cutting-edge scientific issues by creating a structured dialogue between scientists and policy-makers in the European Parliament.
There is an annual call for Scientists to be considered for the register. The MEPs then select a Scientist. During 2016 thirty three pairs of MEPs and Scientists have been established. The list is published on the STOA website
Professor Patrick Paul Walsh, University College Dublin, Political Science, in the area of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Interface, with a special focus on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, has been paired with Julie Girling (European Conservatives and Reformists Group, UK),
During the structured program the paired scientists will have an opportunity of getting acquainted with the workings of the European Parliament’s committees and research services. They will shadow their MEP counterparts in their daily activities. The scientists will to present their research activities to their MEP counterparts and plan an outgoing Science Policy dialogue.
This structured MEP-Scientist Pairing is likely to create a formal space in the European Parliament where Science Policy Interfaces can to make important contributions to European Policy Making.