This month, the EMCDDA has assumed the chairmanship of the EU Agencies’ Network on Scientific Advice (EU-ANSA), one of the sub-networks operating under the tutelage of the Heads of EU agencies network. Its specific purpose is to allow dialogue between senior scientific staff from agencies with a strong science component to their work and to provide scientific and technical advice to EU institutions, Member States and other relevant EU policymakers.
Set up in 2013, the network represents a rich pool of expertise on scientific matters, bringing together 13 EU agencies, two observer members, plus a range of additional bodies, for the exchange of good practice, mutual advice and information-sharing for evidence-based decision-making (1). The network seeks synergies between members’ work and explores ways to enhance the quality of the scientific advice provided. In addition to sharing experiences on best practice, it also constitutes a useful forum for addressing topics that are relevant for agencies working in the scientific area.
The focus of activities in 2018 will be on consolidating and completing ongoing activities, in areas such as communicating scientific uncertainty, and continuing work on ‘research clusters’. These clusters, addressing topical themes, assess the research and development needs common to several EU-ANSA agencies in that area and, in doing so, may provide useful input for consideration of future research needs in these domains.
A number of new initiatives will also be launched in 2018. These will include a stocktaking of EU-ANSA agencies’ approaches to ‘open access’ publications (particularly academic papers) and a mapping of terminology in the area of ‘futures’ (e.g. foresight, forecasting, early warning, horizon scanning, threat assessment). Futures will also be a special theme for the second EU-ANSA meeting, scheduled to take place in Brussels in November.
In the course of 2018, the network will publish ‘EU-ANSA Agencies’ engagement in the EU research knowledge cycle: an overview’. This paper, to be presented to the Heads of EU agencies in February, will highlight the potential added value of the EU-ANSA agencies in identifying knowledge gaps and common research and development needs. EU-ANSA hopes that its individual agencies will use this paper to facilitate communication with institutional stakeholders on how the work of the agencies can provide additional value to EU research activities.
Taking over from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on 1 January 2018, the EMCDDA will act as chair until 31 December, before handing over to the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in 2019. The chairing of the network rotates between the member agencies and each agency is represented in the network by its Chief Scientist, or the equivalent member of staff responsible for the scientific output. Two EU-ANSA meetings will be held this year in May and November.
The establishment of EU-ANSA demonstrates a clear commitment by the Heads of EU agencies to act on the recommendations of the EU Inter-institutional Working Group (IIWG) on agencies, which called for improvements in the exchange of information and coordination between agencies providing scientific advice (2).
EU-ANSA meetings 2018
29–30 May 2018: 11th EU-ANSA meeting, hosted by the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra.
27–28 November 2018: 12th EU-ANSA meeting, hosted by the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) Unit, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG-RTD), Brussels (to be confirmed). Event on futures (to be confirmed).