Science Policy in the EU
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 @ 9:51AM
I am a scientist, I have a PhD in biochemistry and a masters in ecology and environmental sciences. I want to bring this scientific background into the EU in two ways, in policy making and in investment.
Science is extremely important for knowledge based society and underpins a number of technological and innovative developments. In an ever more complex world the value of science in policy making is growing by the day. For example when it comes to setting targets on carbon emissions, fisheries policy or even economic theory it is increasingly the norm that a deeper understanding of science is required to set policy.
The relationship between science and government is a complicated one, government decisions are primarily political while scientists do not have to deal with this political element. Governments are short term due to the electoral cycle while scientists more often look to the long term effects. Then there are other priorities such as the ethical and religious values, or social and economic considerations than must be taken into account by the politician.
As an MEP I would aim to bridge this gap, to be both the politician and the scientist. It has often been said that scientists do not clearly communicate policy and often alienate people. They also do not clearly articulate uncertainties in theories. By being both the scientist and the politician I would aim to understand and communicate scientific policy, but also I have the knowledge and ability to challenge scientific thought and processes.
The other area of science policy in the EU is to do with funding. We often talk about infrastructure and mass building projects in the UK (and throughout the EU) as a way of boosting jobs and creating growth in the economy. This is a short term jolt that will have positive effects, but we also need to look to the future. What will the main industry be in 10 or 20 years time. The truth is that we don’t know. But I can make a very good guess that by investing in scientific research and development we will put ourselves in the position to build an economy for the future.
Blue skies thinking in scientific research and technological development is required to keep London, the UK and the EU competitive in the world. Whether that is green technology solutions or biotech or some development we cannot conceive of yet we need to keep up the level of investment in R&D. As an MEP I would make this happen in the EU through the European Research Council.
Image credit: Horia Varlan