Overline: SAPEA
Headline: Europe needs more strategic crisis management

The European Union faces a growing number of complex, overlapping, transboundary crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It must better prepare for and respond to them, according to the scientific and ethical opinion delivered to the EU Commission at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Nov. 22, 2022.

Leuchtturm im Unwetter
Crises become the Norm, not the Exception. Shutterstock/ Wirestock Creators

Academies advise European Commission

Europe's academies and networks played a central role in the scientific advice on crisis management handed to European Commissioners in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. IASS Director Ortwin Renn of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) also contributed to the report.

At the Commission’s request, independent experts from SAPEA, which is part of the Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism, presented an Evidence Review Report to Commissioners Gabriel and Lenarčič. This report contains the latest scientific evidence and evidence-based policy options on how the EU can improve its strategic crisis management which and informed the Scientific Opinion of the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

SAPEA is a consortium of academy networks that includes over a hundred academies, young academies, and learned societies. The Chair of the SAPEA Board, Antonio Loprieno, says that "we gathered the best scientists from around Europe to provide an interdisciplinary report on crisis management". This report will be the basis not only for quality policy proposals, but also for much further academic work on the topic, Loprieno added.

The Evidence Review Report by SAPEA highlights that strategic crisis management needs to be aligned with broader policy objectives: "Crises are becoming the norm, not the exception. The strategic decisions we make during crises shape our society in the long run" says the Chair of the SAPEA working group, Prof. Tina Comes.

The report also stresses that crises are changing in nature, crossing borders and sectors, and having cascading and overlapping effects on society, the economy, and the environment. They amplify inequalities and hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Therefore, the EU needs to rethink approaches to risk and crisis management.

The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors are seven eminent scientists who advise European Commissioners on big societal challenges informed by SAPEA’s scientific evidence. Among others, the advisors make the following recommendations:

  • The EU should plan and prepare for the entire timescale of crises, from preparedness to response and recovery.
  • The EU should create stronger synergies across European institutions and between European Institutions and Member States; the Emergency Response and Coordination Centre could play a larger role in facilitating the exchange of information and needs.
  • To increase the EU’s resilience, the Advisors advocate for more scalable, rapidly deployable, and efficient EU financial tools.
  • Decision-makers at all levels should also work closely with civil society and the private sector.  

Alongside scientific reports, the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies published a statement that highlights that the fundamental European value of solidarity is essential. Solidarity can be a guiding principle for overcoming crises and strengthening societal resilience.

The Publication you can download here.


The Scientific Advice Mechanism

The European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism provides independent advice on request to the College of European Commissioners to inform policymaking. For this topic, a working group of Europe’s top experts was convened by SAPEA to produce an Evidence Review Report, summarising the current state of knowledge on crisis management from academia to practice and across many disciplines. Informed by this evidence, the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors published its policy recommendations, applicable to a broad range of threats and crises.

The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA) 

The GCSA contributes to the quality of EU legislation through the provision of independent scientific advice to the European Commission. The Advisors are seven eminent scientists, appointed in their personal capacities and who advise the Members of the European Commission on issues of public interest. The Advisors work closely with the Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) consortium. A summary of the Advisors’ previous publications and their impact can be found in their February 2020 report, ‘Informing European Commission Policy Making with Scientific Evidence’. https://ec.europa.eu/research/sam  

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) 

SAPEA is a consortium of academy networks. Across these networks, it brings together outstanding expertise from natural sciences, engineering, and technology, medical, health, agricultural and social sciences, and the humanities. SAPEA draws on over a hundred academies, young academies and learned societies in more than 40 countries across Europe. www.sapea.info/crisis/

The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE)

The EGE is the independent, multi-disciplinary body appointed by the President of the European Commission, which advises on all aspects of Commission policies and legislation where ethical, societal and fundamental rights dimensions intersect with the development of science and new technologies. It was initially established in 1991 by President Jacques Delors. It reports to the President, and to the College of Commissioners as a whole, under the direct responsibility of the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. In recent years, the group provided advice on topics such as artificial intelligence (2018), the future of work (2018), COVID-19 and health crises (2020, three deliveries), genome editing (March 2021), and on Ukraine and in support of peace (March 2022).
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