European Parliamentary Committees: when Chemistry and policy go hand in hand
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are divided up into 22 standing Committees and sub-committees. These Committees are designed to help the European Parliament to make legislative decisions: they consider and amend legislative proposals of the European Commission. Among their additional missions are drafting resolutions on topical matters and organizing hearings with experts. The 22 parliamentary Committees are specialised on a subject and are composed of MEPs. Each has a Chair, Vice-Chairs, and a secretariat.
Well-aware of the importance of science, including Chemistry, in our everyday lives, MEPs are essential in showing the role of Chemistry for society and in making sure that reliable scientific knowledge goes into policy action.
In order to tackle today´s major societal challenges (industry revolution, research and innovation, environment, sustainable energy sources, public health, food safety), the European Chemical Society actively monitors the activities and participates in the events of the parliamentary Committees addressing chemistry-related issues, as science knowledge has a decisive role in most of the EU legislative making processes.
The Committees’ debates are open to the public. EuChemS attends those for which Chemistry knowledge is essential.
But do you know to which of the 22 parliamentary Committees Chemistry contributes the most and brings up-to-date science into legislation?
Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee
The ITRE Committee has a vast number of responsibilities and missions. From a chemist’s point of view, the most significant are (i) research and innovation policy, science and technology, dissemination and exploitation of research findings, (ii) industrial policy and applications of new technologies, (iii) the activities of the Joint Research Centre, the European Research Council, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, (iv) the promotion of energy efficiency and energy saving, the development of new and renewable forms of energy, (v) nuclear safety and decommissioning and waste disposal in the nuclear sector (compliance with the Euratom Treaty).
The common objective is to design a new EU industrial strategy, as an effort to achieve a more competitive resilient industry […] to continue to transform more societies or economies or energy systems in the direction of Green Deal objectives.
– Cristian-Silviu Buşoi (Romania), Chair of the ITRE Committee
Source: Pan-European Hackathon #EUvsVirus
Current activities of ITRE include topics as: ‘A just energy transition, opportunity for EU industries, the role of hydrogen in the future’; ‘How to tackle challenges in a future-oriented EU industrial strategy?’, ‘Europe – the Global Centre for Excellent Research’, ‘5G Deployment: State of play in Europe, USA and Asia’. One of the topics that EuChemS closely follows is Horizon Europe – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and the rapporteur appointed by the ITRE Committee is MEP Christian Ehler (Germany).
In 2014, when the MEP Jerzy Buzek was the Chair of the ITRE Committee, he accepted the invitation of EuChemS to address the attendees of the EuChemS General Assembly (see the full video here). On this occasion, he said that the topics discussed within EuChemS are very high on the agenda of the ITRE Committee, and the whole EU as well. He also emphasized that the work of our top experts, such as members of EuChemS, is crucial for the success of research and innovation programs that strengthen Europe’s scientific and technological base.
Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee
The ENVI Committee evolved with the growing environmental awareness, becoming today the largest parliamentary committee with 81 MEPs. The ENVI Committee is responsible for environmental policy and protection measures, as well as public health and food safety measures. It is also responsible for topics covered by the Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), to which EuChemS is an accredited stakeholder.
I am committed to the highest level of transparency so as to increase citizens’ understanding and participation in our work.
– Pascal Canfin (France), Chair of the ENVI Committee
Source : https://bit.ly/3eJQehh, ©2019
The Committee has a very busy agenda, including lately the preparatory work for Europe’s Beating Cancer plan and – as it will not have escaped your notice – the management of the COVID-19 health crisis. In the recent past, many proposals made by the ENVI Committee were adopted by the European Commission, such as a new Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment; the Parliament adopted a motion for a resolution supporting a 55% reduction of EU emission by 2030, and calling on the European Council to support net-zero EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest.
As an example of EuChemS collaboration with the ENVI Committee, the policy workshop on glyphosate’s possible negative effect on human health which was held in the European Parliament in 2017 should be mentioned. EuChemS, together with ex MEP Pavel Poc, who was Vice-Chair of the ENVI Committee, and the European Chemistry Thematic Network Association (ECTN), invited ECHA representatives and leading experts in the field to participate in a scientific evidence based debate on the topic.
To address effectively global societal challenges, the European Chemical Society with its network of more than 150000 chemists have responsibility to provide expertise and scientific advice that MEPs seek for. Committees are in a position to turn scientific advice into policy and practice, and EuChemS is glad to be a key knowledge provider in this process.
Laura Jousset, Jelena Lazić
EuChemS Science Communication & Policy Officers