Today the European Commission’s independent Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA), the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) and Peter Piot, special advisor to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, published a joint statement on scientific advice to European policy makers concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said:
“Scientific advice is part and parcel of our policy-making, also in times of an emergency like the Covid-19 pandemic when uncertainty and complexity abound. The statement helps us to learn from experience in real time. As Europe gradually emerges from shutdown, scientific advice will continue to inform our approach to recovery and the EU’s preparedness for possible future crises.”
Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel said:
“As we recover from the Coronavirus crisis, we must be ready for the next pandemic, or crisis of another kind. The joint statement from the Advisors, European Group on Ethics, and Peter Piot gives clear guidelines on how to give scientific advice to decision makers and will help us to harness the full potential of our scientific knowledge in the fight against this and future pandemics.”
The statement provides guidance for the provision of scientific advice in pandemic situations that are characterised by complexity and uncertainty. To ensure efficient and effective policies, advice should be multi-disciplinary, and provided through early and frequent exchange with policy-makers. Transparency and openness are crucial. Clarity on what is known, what is not known, and what cannot be known is very important as illustrated by debate around the use of facemasks, the ability of children to spread the disease, or the maximum level of protection offered by a possible vaccine. Also critical is that there is a clear distinction between advice, decision making and implementation roles.
The statement also announces two forthcoming jointly authored scientific opinions that will make recommendations for better pandemic preparedness and management and on crisis resilience in general.
The statement draws on the principles described by the GCSA Opinion “Scientific Advice to European Policy in a Complex World” (September 2019) and the EGE Statement “European Solidarity and Protection of Fundamental Rights in the COVID-19 Pandemic” (April 2020).
The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors
The European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA) contribute to the quality of EU legislation through the provision of independent scientific advice to the Commission. The Advisors are seven eminent scientists, appointed in their personal capacities and who advise the Members of the European Commission on issues of public interest. The Advisors work closely with the Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) consortium, which gathers interdisciplinary expertise from over 100 academies and societies across Europe. A summary of the Advisors’ previous publications and their impact can be found in their February 2020 report, ‘Informing European Commission Policy Making with Scientific Evidence’.
On the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies
The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) is an independent, multi-disciplinary body appointed by the President of the European Commission. The EGE advises on all aspects of Commission policies and legislation where ethical, societal and fundamental rights dimensions intersect with the development of science and new technologies. The latest statement was issued on 2 April 2020, on European Solidarity and the Protection of Fundamental Rights in the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The special advisor to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on the response to the coronavirus and COVID-19
Virologist Prof Peter Piot is special advisor to the President Ursula Von der Leyen on the response to the coronavirus and COVID-19. In this role, he advises the Commission in supporting and steering research and innovation in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Handa Professor of Global Health, co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire in 1976 and also led pioneering research on HIV-AIDS, women’s health and infectious diseases, mostly in Africa. He later directed the United Nations AIDS programme for ten years. The former Under Secretary-General of the UN is also member of the scientific advisory panel that provides the Commission with recommendations on response to the pandemic; including policy measures for addressing its long-term consequences.
24 June 2020