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Who Needs Advice?

Getting rid of the position of chief scientific adviser to the European Commission president isn't going to do Europe any favors, says Michael Specter at the New Yorker.

The position was created by former President José Manuel Barroso and held by Anne Glover, a Scottish biologist. As Specter notes, when Barroso established the post, he said that the adviser would "provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation."

But Jean-Claude Juncker, who has succeeded Barroso, has eliminated the position in what Specter says seemed to be a capitulation to Glover's critics. Green groups had called for Glover's dismissal and the scuttling of the position, saying that the CSA gives one-sided advice.

"President Juncker believes in independent scientific advice," an EC spokesperson says. "He has not yet decided how to institutionalize this independent scientific advice."

Specter, though, isn't convinced.

"Scientific achievement has become a questionable priority in both Europe and the United States. Increasingly, we express contempt for the idea that decisions should be based on verifiable data," he adds. "That's too bad for Anne Glover. But it's far worse for the hundreds of millions of Europeans whom the European Commission is supposed to represent."