20 Jahre STOA (Elektrosensibilität)

H. Lamarr @, München, Donnerstag, 05.07.2007, 23:54 (vor 6084 Tagen) @ H. Lamarr

Derzeit scheint das STOA-Büro ohnehin mehr tot als lebendig zu sein.

Tote leben länger. Am 5. Juli 2007 feierte sich die STOA auf Cordis News selber anlässlich ihres 20. Geburtstages.

STOA, the European Parliament's Scientific Technology Options Assessment body, celebrates its 20th birthday this year. In an interview with CORDIS News, STOA Chair Philippe Busquin talks about how the body has moved from infancy, through some years of teenage-angst to adulthood, to provide MEPS with a source of sound facts and expertise on some of the most important scientific and technological developments of today.

STOA was first established as a pilot project by members of the European Parliament's then Committee on Energy, Research and Technology (CERT) - now the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The idea for the body followed a number of studies conducted by committee members on research and innovation. These were designed to promote European policy in science and technology, and to give the Parliament an enhanced profile in the sector.

The idea further took shape during a fact-finding trip by members of the committee to the US Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) - which, although now dismantled, for more than 20 years provided Congress with information on complex and highly technical issues.

Following an 18-month pilot phase, the body was formally established in 1987 with Rolf Linkohr, German MEP and doctor in physics, as its first Chair. The aim of STOA at the time was to provide independent scientific and technological assessments of policy options following requests from the Parliament's committees.

'STOA has had some very successful moments, but it has also gone through some hard times too,' Mr Busquin told CORDIS News. Prior to Mr Busquin, the body was chaired by Dr Linkohr, Michel Poniatowski, (France), Professor Antonios Trakatellis, (Greece) Professor Alain Pompidou (France), who is also the former president of the European Patent Office (EPO). 'During this time, we came under criticism that the studies we conducted were too timely, responding too quickly to emerging issues such as genetically modified organisms. This gave some people the impression that STOA was lobbying the Parliament on these issues, or sometimes it was thought that these studies couldn't be complete or there were mistakes.'

In 2004, MEPs decided to reform STOA in order to redefine its role and objectives. While underlining the need to carry out work that was relevant to the European Parliament, the new rules stated that 'STOA's work will address long to medium-term issues and shall be distinct from projects carried out by other parliamentary bodies which meet specific sectoral or short term research requirements.' The reform also saw new rules for the composition of the STOA panel: it now comprises 15 members, who are nominated by ITRE and five other parliamentary committees.

Mr Busquin believes that the new mandate has provided the body with a clearer and more structured framework in which to work. 'The studies that we undertake are transversal: for example, we are not going to conduct a study on a very specific element of transport,' he explained. 'The idea is that the issue should be placed in a much larger context and should be linked with those issues on the agenda at the Parliament.'

Any member or body of the European Parliament can submit a proposal to the STOA Panel, the studies themselves are carried out by external experts following a public call for tenders. These studies must involve a team of scientific organisations from across the Member States. Prior to publishing a call for tenders, the STOA panel may also commission external scientists to evaluate a request for a technology assessment. Scientists can also be commissioned to evaluate the quality of a study following its completion. Other STOA activities include workshops, expert discussions and visits to scientific and technical institutions.

When taking up the STOA chair in 2004, Mr Busquin was set the task of raising the profile and influence of this small body. Asked whether he thought STOA's work has made a difference to EU policy-making, he says that 'it really depends'. He referred to a recently published STOA report on intellectual property rights, which he said had been well received by MEPs. 'During parliamentary debates, MEPs can rely on these studies to form their own opinions on a subject, because they can be sure that the content of the studies is based on facts only and the experts who write them are number one in Europe,' he said. Mr Busquin was also keen to point out the high-level of participation by industry and the scientific community at the workshops that accompany the studies.

Nonetheless, 'the biggest problem remains getting our message across,' said the Chair, who remarked on how difficult it was to even locate the STOA webpage on the Parliament's website. 'If you asked around, I am sure that a lot of MEPs don't know about STOA, even though all our work is available online for downloading - there is just so much information circulating in the Parliament.'

To raise its profile, the panel recently organised the 'STOA Experience' in Strasbourg, where MEPs were given the chance to visit exhibits on some of the latest scientific and technological advances taking place today. 'The aim was to show that all social and economic agendas will depend on our capacity to innovate and that science and technology are key to Europe's future competitiveness,' said Mr Busquin.

STOA has also sought to establish links with entities beyond the European Parliament. 'When I was made chair, I wanted to make sure that STOA was no longer isolated,' said Mr Busquin. One way has been through its membership of the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Association (EPTA). 'The aim is to reinforce links with national bodies, exchange dossiers and information in order to avoid duplication. The sole criteria for sharing studies are that they are scientifically objective and written in a way which makes them easily accessible.'

Mr Busquin, the former EU Commissioner for Science and Research, was also eager to strengthen STOA's relationship with the Commission's Research Directorate-General. The recently launched MEP-Scientists pairing scheme is perhaps proof that this relationship is now well and truly established. The scheme, which was inspired by a similar initiative run by the UK's Royal Society, will see scientists who have participated in EU-funded research visiting MEPs at the Parliament to find how decisions are made. MEPs will also have a chance to spend time with the scientists in their labs.


For more information, please visit:

Jedes komplexe Problem hat eine Lösung, die einfach, naheliegend, plausibel – und falsch ist.
– Frei nach Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956) –

gesamter Thread:

 RSS-Feed dieser Diskussion

powered by my little forum