On 12 July, the European Parliament ENVI Committee (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) held an exchange of views with Prof Henrik Wegener, chair of the High Level Group (HLG) of the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) on the work of SAM, which exists since 10 November 2015.
The European Commission established SAM in order to support the Commission with high quality, timely and independent scientific advice for its policy-making activities in order to improve the quality of EU legislation.
Prof Wegener explained that the 7 scientific advisors of the HLG work on questions in all areas of policies that require and benefit from scientific input. They either respond to requests from the Commission or take own initiative in dialogue with academia by identifying policy issue for which advice is needed. Currently, they are working on CO2 emissions and cyber security. The SAM also improve interactions between policy makers and scientific advisers.
The dialogue between the SAM and academia helps to have a stronger foundation to develop input into policy discussions. For example, in giving advice to the Parliament, SAM’s opinions are available to inform debates and decision-taking.
The general working procedure of the SAM is as follows: If they receive a scoping paper from the Commission, outlining the nature and scope of the work, they decide in dialogue with the Commissioner to carry out the work. Next, they gather evidence and do literature research, organise expert workshops and stakeholder meetings with people outside the scientific committee before they develop their final opinion and present an analysis of the options. A faster procedure exists as well, with the aim to give just an explanation instead of developing an opinion.
The SAM work independent and transparent. Everything they do will be shared.