The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors is an expert group of the European Commission and provides independent scientific advice to the College of European Commissioners to inform their decision making.
The Group is supported by a dedicated Unit staffed by the European Commission’s Research and Innovation and Joint Research Centre Directorates General.
The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and the Unit work closely with the SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) consortium which consists of the 5 European Academy Networks Academia Europaea, ALLEA, EASAC, Euro-CASE and FEAM. SAPEA brings together the outstanding knowledge and expertise of Fellows from over 100 Academies and Learned Societies in over 40 countries across Europe, spanning the disciplines of engineering, humanities, medicine, natural sciences and social sciences.
Together, the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, the Unit and SAPEA are known as the Scientific Advice Mechanism ('SAM').
How the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors can be asked to provide advice and how it works together with SAPEA in SAM to do so is explained in the diagram below and in more detail here.
Establishment of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors
Following President Juncker’s announcement, 13 May 2015, the European Commission established the Scientific Advice Mechanism High Level Group of Scientific Advisors through EC Decision C(2015) 6946. This Decision was subsequently amended by EC Decision C(2018) 1919, which among others, renamed the Advisors as the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.
The Scientific Advisors contribute to the quality of EU legislation, in line with the Better Regulation agenda. The Group has up to seven highly qualified independent expert members who are appointed in their personal capacity and who act in the public interest. The first seven members were appointed by Carlos Moedas, the Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, on 10 November 2015. Current and previous members are listed here.
The Commission is assisted in selecting the advisors by an independent Identification Committee.
The use of experts and expertise in SAM
As an expert group advising the European Commission, the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors is bound by Commission Decision C(2016) 3301 of 30 May 2016 ‘establishing horizontal rules on the creation and operation of Commission expert groups’.
This decision states that expert group members must complete a written declaration of interests. This allows the Commission to assess whether a conflict of interest exists which could jeopardise the impartiality of the advice provided by the expert group.
The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors is listed in the Commission’s Register of Expert Groups (reference E03378) along with the current members and their declarations of interests. The Commission established that no conflict of interest exists for any member of this group.
The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors frequently consults other experts from a wide range of disciplines which underpins the quality of its advice.
The Scientific Advisors stress the importance of making use of such expertise. They also underline the importance of appropriately managing any interest that experts may have.
The Scientific Advisors mostly consult experts who are drawn from the academy networks that are part of the SAPEA Consortium. The outcome of such consultation usually takes the form of an Evidence Review Report that is drafted by one or more SAPEA working group.
Experts who are invited to participate as member of such working group must complete a written declaration of interests. This declaration is subsequently assessed by the SAPEA Consortium which takes, wherever relevant, appropriate action to avoid jeopardy to the independence of the activities. SAPEA thereby ensures the impartiality of the evidence review.
In order to ensure the effective co-ordination of activities of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and SAPEA working groups, the Scientific Advisors occasionally meet as a 'co-ordination group', to which some SAPEA working group experts may be invited.
The Scientific Advisors may moreover elicit the views of other experts or stakeholders in the context of workshops, expert meetings, stakeholder meetings or hearings.
The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors may also meet as a ‘sounding board’ to which some experts are invited, including those who are external to SAPEA working groups. A sounding board checks scientific facts and the feasibility of recommendations in near-final versions of the advice of the Scientific Advisors.
The abovementioned Commission Decision requires that the Commission is made aware of the interests of individuals participating as ‘invited experts’ in a Commission expert group, to ensure that they act independently and in the public interest. The Decision does not require that these interests are reported in writing or that they are published.
In the interest of transparency, the Commission nonetheless requires that experts invited to participate in a co-ordination or sounding board meeting declare any interest which they may have in writing. The Commission assesses these declarations and, where relevant, takes measures to avoid that the independence of the work is compromised. These declarations are published on this website after the publication of the advice to which the experts contributed until six months thereafter.
Stakeholders, workshop, or hearing experts who do not participate in deliberations of the Group of Scientific Advisors, unlike co-ordination group and sounding board experts, are not required to make a written declaration of interests. Even so, their names and affiliations are published on this website.
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SAM Background Documents
- Decision setting up the High Level Group of Scientific Advisors
DE 190 KB | EN 181 KB | FR 183 KB
- C(2018)1919 of 5 April 2018 - Commission Decision amending Decision C(2015)6946
DE 126 KB | EN 158 KB | FR 122 KB
- Consolidated version - EC Decisions – C(2015)6946 and C(2018)1919 181 KB
- Scientific Advice Mechanism - Main features 396 KB
- Guidelines – how SAM produces scientific advice 455 KB
- Strengthening Evidence Based Policy Making 282 KB
- Scientific advice for policy-makers in the EU 413 KB
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