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  • Science and Governance: describing and typifying the scientific advice structure in the policy making process - a multi-national study. An ESTO project report


As policy issues facing governments increasingly involve a scientific or technological component, so the need for decision-makers to seek scientific advice has grown. Whatever form they take, advisory bodies are tasked with aiding policy decisions through the provision of robust and reliable advice. In considering how the provision of advice to policy-makers could be improved, this study was commissioned by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), through the ESTO network, to identify and typify the advisory structures in the science related policy and regulatory decision making systems in several states.

The study encompassed the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Sweden, and also considered the USA and the situation at EU level. After producing a general overview of the advisory systems in each country, a more detailed study was carried out into the advisory processes involved in each country for two issues in which scientific advice has formed a major input into policy considerations: the possible cloning of embryonic stem cells for use in research; and the health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

The study found that a wide variety of advisory structures are employed, and that the openness of the advisory system is increasingly recognised as an important contributory factor to the robustness of advice. It suggests a classification framework for advisory bodies and discusses the limitations of this approach. The study concludes that there is no "best" practice for seeking scientific advice, but the European Commission could play an important role in promoting "good" practice. ce.

Additional information

Authors: GLYNN S, University of Manchester, PREST (GB);FLANAGAN K, University of Manchester, PREST (GB);KEENAN M, University of Manchester, PREST (GB)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 19830 EN (2001), pp. 215. Euro: Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9843 or +39 033278 9864 Fax: +39 033278 9623 E-mail:
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