Science in policy advice

On Tuesday 21 January 2020, Johannes Klumpers gave a lecture to employees and council members of The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) on scientific policy advice. Mr Klumpers heads up the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) unit in Brussels. SAM is an independent organization that advises the European Commission on policy making based on scientific expertise.

Foto Johannes Klumpers

The immediate reason for the lecture was SAM’s recent publication: Scientific Advice to European Policy in a complex world. The advice is aimed at the European Commission’s policy makers, and is relevant to the way in which the European Commission handles scientific knowledge. Qualitative and high-level scientific expertise is a solid foundation for strong scientific policy advice.

Quality control

The advice consists of a reflection on scientific policy advice and contains interesting recommendations including on the importance of quality control. How do you deal with uncertainty? And controversy? How do you create confidence in scientific expertise? The discussion included the topic of biases, and how various scientific disciplines could be combined to ensure optimum cooperation. Both The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy and SAM prioritize the interest and added value of working in interdisciplinary teams.

As a result, the advice and the follow-up discussion align well with the talks held on a regular basis between scientific employees and council members of the WRR. Exchanging ideas and experiences with other scientific policy advisors at home and abroad would be a useful addition.