Clarification needed on top EU scientist post – Nicholson

Jim Nicholson
Jim Nicholson

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has called for urgent clarification regarding the position of a Chief Scientific Advisor to the European Commission.

At a meeting of the ECR Group in the European Parliament last week, Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans appeared to roll back on the Commission’s decision last year to axe the post, stating that a Chief Scientific Advisor would remain. However, the Commission has since released a statement denying that the position is to be retained.

Mr Nicholson said: “The post of Chief Scientific Advisor during the last Commission provided independent expert analysis and advice on issues surrounding science, research and innovation.

“The surprise decision by President Jean-Claude Juncker to scrap this post in November, despite earlier assurances that the role would continue, was a backward step.

“For a short time it seemed that the Commission had U-turned on its previous U-turn. Speaking at the ECR group meeting this week, Vice President Frans Timmermans intimated that a Chief Scientific Advisor would indeed be appointed.

“Any optimism, however, has been short lived as the Commission has since denied that the post will be retained.

“The Commission appears to suffering from confusion within its own ranks.

“Therefore, I have written to Mr Timmermans to seek clarification on this as a matter of urgency.

“Science must be at the centre of EU decision-making and policy development – particularly in relation to decisions which impact upon the agri-food industry.

“This was made abundantly clear in light of the Parliament’s decision to pass unworkable and ultimately unscientific proposals on GM crops this week.

“Quite frankly, the EU needs to take science seriously if it is to be taken seriously on science, or I fear we will lag even further behind the global competition.”