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The scope and role of the "new" SCAR

The Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) was established in 1974. Since it’s re-launched in 2005, SCAR has grown to become a respected source of advice on European agricultural and wider bioeconomy research, along with being a major catalyst for the coordination of national research programmes, where it has helped shape the beginnings of an integrated European Research Area. The Committee plays an important role in coupling research and innovation and in removing barriers to innovation, and aims to make it easier for public-public and public-private sectors to work together in delivering innovation that tackles the challenges faced in the bio-economy area. This has particular relevance with respect to the new growth oriented approach in the horizon 2020 programme.

SCAR currently represents 37 different countries, the members being ministries (or other organisations such as research councils) from all EU Member States, with Candidate and Associated Countries as observers.

Established through a Regulation of the Council of the EU on the coordination of agricultural research the Committee adopted its own rules of procedure in line with those adopted by the Commission on 31 January 2001 and in accordance with Council Decision 1999/468/EC. The Committee was given a revised mandate in 2005 by the Council, reflecting the significant changes to the agricultural research agenda over the years, and requested to advise the Commission and the Member States on the coordination of agricultural research in Europe.

SCAR organisation and instruments

SCAR delivers through various groups, each with its own responsibilities but, ultimately, reporting to the six-monthly plenary meeting of official delegates.

SCAR Organisation chart

Plenary Meeting

The plenary meeting convenes twice a year and brings together delegates from all EU Member States, candidate Member States and states associated to the EU. Costs of travel to the meeting are covered by the Commission. This is the ‘governing body’, deciding on the creation of dedicated working groups and any other initiative proposed by the Commission and/or the SCAR Working Group. Draft policy papers prepared by smaller often ad hoc, working groups, are discussed in the Plenary which then decides on further actions.

Secretariat – SCAR Working Group

A group of SCAR delegates, or national officials nominated by them, and Commission staff, come together on a regular basis to plan the plenary meetings (agenda, invitation, documentation, minutes, etc.), to prepare discussion papers (e.g. coordination mechanisms in Horizon 2020; prioritisation of ERA-Net Co-fund activities) to develop documents to be debated by the plenary, and to follow-up the decisions of the plenary meetings. This includes organising the establishment of new working groups and providing support to those already in existence. The SCAR working group meets five to six times a year. Participation by SCAR countries is strongly encouraged but there is no central resource to facilitate this participation.

Foresight Group

One of SCAR’s main activities is horizon scanning through foresight studies. A working group of SCAR, the ‘Foresight Group’, proposes such activity to the plenary and, after approval, governs the execution of relevant studies. The Commission has made available resources through the Framework Programmes to help contract experts, to carry out the foresight activity (which may include review of other ongoing studies, scenario building, research prioritisation, etc.), to organize meetings (workshops, seminars, conferences) and to publicize outcomes.

Collaborative Working Groups (CWG)

SCAR Collaborative Working Groups have been an important SCAR instrument since 2005. These are fora where members wish to discuss matters of common interest in a specific research area, with a view to a possible multilateral collaboration between funders of research. This allows the building of trust, common ways of working, and the development of common research agendas. In the past, many of these CWGs have evolved into ERA-Nets.

Again, membership is voluntary but always requires one or more countries to volunteer to coordinate the group. Usually Commission Staff are actively involved. The groups work with specific terms of reference on a well-defined subject for a limited period, usually between one and three years, but can also provide a longer-term platform if necessary. The CWG’s terms of reference need to be approved by the Plenary meeting but they have a high level of autonomy in their operation.

Strategic Working Group (SWG)

In more recent years dedicated subgroups have been established to discuss strategic matters for which there is insufficient time or opportunity in the Plenary meetings. The strategic matters cover broad issues with a specific remit, described in terms of reference, approved by the Plenary meeting. Today these groups have focused on formulating research policy advice on issues such as fisheries and aquaculture research (SCAR Fish), agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (SCAR AKIS), sustainable bioresources production (SCAR Biomass), forestry research and innovation (SCAR Forest) and European Agricultural Research towards greater impact on global challenges (SCAR ARCH). Membership in these groups is voluntary and is financed through national resources; Commission staff too is actively involved in them. In various cases individual Member States have contributed funds to pay for coordination efforts and/or expert input.

Ad-hoc working groups or task forces

Occasionally, SCAR may decide to take on an initiative additional to its regular activities, or an initiative that takes more time and effort than can be accommodated within the regular work load of the SCAR Working Group. Examples include preparation of SCAR input to the development of EU RTD Framework Programmes and national programme coordination mechanisms.

 

 

Contact

For general information about SCAR, if you have queries or you want to share your views please contact us at:
RTD-SCAR@ec.europa.eu

Relevant documents