The role of the chief scientific adviser at the European Commission has been scrapped.
The job — which was held by former chief scientific adviser to Scotland Anne Glover — ceased to exist at the end of October 2014 when the term of office of the then European Union commissioner JosÃ© Manuel Barroso came to an end.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s chief scientist Jayne Lawrence described the discontinuation of the post as deeply disappointing. “The provision of independent, expert, evidence-based advice on science is essential to effective, informed decision-making,” she says. “This outcome is damaging to the place of such advice in Europe.”
His successor Jean-Claude Juncker has yet to decide how that advice will be delivered to the European Commission in future.
Glover’s departure follows a row earlier this year over the future of the role, which was described as unaccountable, un-transparent and controversial by nine environmental groups and non-government agencies, including Greenpeace.
They wrote to Juncker in July 2014 urging him to scrap the post after Glover spoke out in favour of genetically modified crops – a view they said was at odds with the opinion of other scientists.
The letter triggered a backlash from other European scientists who asked Juncker to maintain the post.
A spokesperson for the European Commission says the position of chief scientific officer automatically came to an end when Barroso’s term finished because he had created the role during his period in office.
“President Juncker believes in independent scientific advice,” she says. “He has not yet decided how to institutionalise this independent scientific advice. Unless President Juncker decides to re-introduce the post of chief scientific adviser, there is no replacement. Such a decision has not been taken at this stage.”
Glover held the role since it was created in 2012 in order to strengthen scientific advice and evidence-based policy in Europe. She is due to leave the European Commission at the end of January 2015 and until then she will work in the European Political Strategy Centre.