This month, the EMCDDA approaches the end of its presidency of the EU Agencies’ Network on Scientific Advice (EU-ANSA) and looks back on a productive year (1).
EU-ANSA is one of the sub-networks operating under 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. Each agency is represented in the network by its Chief Scientist, or the equivalent member of staff responsible for the scientific output.
Having taken over the rotating presidency 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 focus of EU-ANSA activities in 2018 was on consolidating and completing ongoing activities, in areas such as communicating scientific uncertainty and engaging with research. The network also continued its work on ‘research clusters’, which assess the research and development needs common to the EU-ANSA agencies and address cross-cutting topical themes (e.g. exposure science, quantitative survey data).
A number of new initiatives were completed in 2018. These included a preliminary stock taking of EU 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).
In the course of the year, the network also published two reflection papers. The first of these — ‘EU-ANSA Agencies’ engagement in the EU research knowledge cycle: an overview’ — was presented to the Heads of EU agencies in February and to the Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG-RTD) in November. It highlights the potential added value of the EU-ANSA agencies in identifying knowledge gaps and common research and development needs.
The second paper — ‘Approaches to assess and manage scientific uncertainty: examples from EU-ANSA agencies’ — takes stock of current practices in agencies and reflects on best practices with a view to developing common principles.
During its mandate, the EMCDDA chaired two EU-ANSA meetings: one in May — hosted by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra — and one in November — hosted by DG-RTD in Brussels. These facilitated a common understanding in approaches and methods for the provision of scientific advice and the exchange of information and coordination between EU-ANSA agencies.
For further information, see www.emcdda.europa.eu/about/partners/euansa