Frequently asked questions

Scientific Advice Mechanism - questions and answers

1. What is the SAM High Level Group?

The High Level Group, or HLG, is a group of 7 eminent scientists who provide independent scientific advice to the College of European Commissioners. More »»

Together with the European Academies (through the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) consortium, funded by Horizon 2020) and supported by the SAM secretariat (staffed from the European Commission's Directorate General for Research and Joint Research Centre), they make up the core of the Scientific Advice Mechanism.

The HLG was established by a Commission Decision  PDF icon 181 KB , was selected with the assistance of an Identification Committee, and has adopted its own Rules for Procedure  PDF icon 314 KB , including guidelines for interacting with the media.


2. What advice has SAM HLG provided so far?

The High Level Group has given two opinions on "Closing the gap between light duty vehicle CO2 emissions and laboratory testing" and on "Cybersecurity in the European Digital Single Market"; and two explanatory notes on "Scientific advice for the regulatory assessment of glyphosate in plant protection products" and "New Techniques in Agricultural Biotechnology". More »»

The opinions were requested by Commissioner Cañete (Climate Action and Energy) and by Vice President Ansip and were delivered November 2016 and March 2017 respectively. The explanatory notes were requested by Commissioner Moedas (Research, Science and Innovation) and Commissioner Andriukaitis and were delivered in June 2016 and April 2017 respectively.

Commissioner Andriukaitis has also requested an opinion on "Authorisation of plant protection products in Europe" which is to be delivered in November 2017. The HLG will also provide an opinion on "Food from the oceans" to Commissioner Vella (Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) before 2018.


3. What is the role of the European Academies in SAM?

The Science Advice for Policy by EuropeanAcademies consortium (SAPEA) brings together the outstanding knowledge and expertise of Fellows from over 100 Academies and Learned Societies in over 40 countries across Europe. More »»

Funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the SAPEA consortium comprises Academia Europaea (AE), All European Academies (ALLEA), the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), the European Council of Academies of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering (Euro-CASE) and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM). This enables SAM to benefit from the widest possible range of scientific expertise in the production of its advice, with academy experts participating in topic specific workshops and meetings.


4. How does SAM work with existing scientific advice and advisors in the European Commission?

There is a wide range of sources of scientific advice supporting policy making in the European Commission, beyond the Scientific Advice Mechanism, and it is clearly stated in the Commission Decision establishing the SAM HLG that it should not duplicate advice being provided by existing bodies. More »»

This is ensured by regular communication between the SAM secretariat and the other Directorates General of the European Commission which are responsible for the provision of scientific advice, as well as between the SAM secretariat and the regulatory agencies of the European Commission.


5. How does SAM provide advice?

The HLG provides advice to a European Commissioner who has asked for it in order to take action in the area that s/he is responsible for. The HLG, in discussion with SAPEA, can also suggest that the College of European Commissioners consults the HLG on a particular topic which is judged of importance. Finally, the HLG can also be asked or it can suggest that it provides recommendations on how to improve the way in which European Commission policy making and scientific advice are linked. To date, the HLG has provided advice having been asked to do so by European Commissioners. More »»

When the College of European Commissioners and the High Level Group agree on a subject for advice, the corresponding Directorate General or Service of the Commission prepares a 'scoping paper' in cooperation with the SAM secretariat. The scoping paper explains why the advice is needed, what the parameters of the advice are and when it is required. When advice is required in the longer term, or if a topic is suggested by the HLG in consultation with SAPEA, SAPEA may also be invited to participate in the development of the scoping paper. These scoping papers are published on the SAM website.

Once the scoping paper is agreed, the HLG and SAPEA, assisted by the SAM secretariat, gather publicly available scientific evidence (both through literature search and through the organisation of workshops and meetings) for analysis and to support the production of the corresponding scientific advice. For further information on the methods used to provide scientific advice, see the corresponding sections of the pieces of advice delivered so far.


6. How does SAM avoid bias?

Scientific advice provided by the SAM HLG is based on entirely on evidence which is publicly available at the time of publication of the advice. In addition, the members of the High Level Group and experts who are invited to participate in steering groups for specific pieces of advice provide "declarations of interest" to the European Commission, to enable the Commission to determine whether any conflicts of interest exist and to take appropriate action. Further details




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