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A Way to Ask About Science

The European Commission is developing a new science advice system, dubbed the Science Advice Mechanism (SAM), ScienceInsider reports, that includes a seven-member panel of scientists who will advise policymakers. SAM, it adds, will also enable policymakers to draw on the expertise of Europe's national academies and societies.

The new EC President Jean-Claude Juncker eliminated the chief scientific advisor post in November, raising concerns about what role science would have in policy decisions. This new approach, ScienceInsider says, was developed by Carlos Moedas, the research commissioner, and endorsed by Juncker last week.

According to Moedas, SAM will include seven "top-level" scientists, who will not be employed by the commission and who will be recruited to the panel by a three-person identification committee, an approach ScienceInsider notes is modeled after how the European Research Council recruits members. Moedas will act as a facilitator between the commissioners and the panel.

"After six months in limbo, it's welcome news that the commission [is announcing] its plans for the future of scientific advice," James Wilsdon from the University of Sussex tells ScienceInsider. "A high level group, properly resourced, with links to national academies and learned societies could work well."