Putting science at the heart of policy-making

Photo: Maria Koleva Thierry Benoist, JRC, author of Artefacts, and Catherine Simoneau, also from JRS, explained what virtual reality is bringing to the customers.

The Yehudi Menuhin Space in the European Parliament in Brussels resembled a science lab on 6 and 7 February. This year's edition of 'Science meets Parliaments', joint initiative of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission and the European Parliament's Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA), zoomed in on different pressing challenges. Among the debated questions were such as how artificial intelligence might affect our lives, how to build resilient societies in a turbulent world, and how values and social relations affect political behaviour and decision-making, among others.

Yascha Mounk, from John Hopkins University, author of People vs. Democracy, delivered a keynote lecture on the crisis of liberal democracy and the rise of populism.

Talking about the forthcoming European elections in May, Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, said: “We have every reason to believe that following the elections in May, the new European Parliament and the new Commission will look perceivably different from today, pursuing new ideas as well as possibly pushing some older ones in different directions.” How far this will change the way EU policies are made is difficult to predict, but change will surely come, he stressed, adding that “policy making in a democracy has three foundations: values and beliefs, politics, and scientific evidence”.

The conference was accompanied by the exhibition “Putting Science at the Heart of European Policy-Making”, which highlighted the impact of science in making sound and successful public policies with direct benefit on people's lives. The science input on tackling challenges as migration, resilience, mobility, fairness, and digital transformation, complemented by the Science & Art project Smile to Vote, were also presented.

The virtual reality exhibition Artefacts transferred the visitors hundred kilometres away to the Berlin Museum fuer Naturkunde. The video is made by JRC in cooperation with the museum and gives close-up look at the harsh reality and what is the impact of industrial chemicals on the environment. The authors combined that with the virtual world in which one can step in and really have the understanding what science is bringing to the policy making.

'Science meets Parliaments/Science meets Regions' was the name of the EU's pilot project that was kicked off during the event, bringing to the debate national and regional authorities and encouraging discussion on locally relevant policy issues.

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