Brussels, 28 Jul 2004
The European Parliament's scientific and technological options assessment unit (STOA) is now operating under new rules, introduced during July.
STOA provides independent scientific or technological assessments of policy options following requests from the Parliament's committees. It is an official organ of the European Parliament, but its work is carried out in partnership with external experts.
The new rules, adopted in April, give STOA a clearer mandate. They outline how STOA should contribute to debates and legislative considerations of political relevance.
STOA shall: 'provide Parliament's committees and other parliamentary bodies concerned with independent, high-quality and scientifically impartial studies and information for the assessment of the impact of possibly introducing or promoting new technologies and shall identify, from the technological point of view, the options for the best courses of action to take,' according to the new rules. The unit will also organise fora where scientific and technological developments of relevance to civil society can be discussed.
The composition of the STOA panel has also been changed in order to reduce its size. The panel will now comprise 15 members with the right to vote - the Vice-President of the Parliament responsible for STOA, four MEPs nominated by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and two MEPs from five other committees.
Studies will be carried out by an external contractor following a public call for tenders. This is a change from the previous system, under which the Parliament published a call for expressions of interest every three years and then kept a list of those organisations and individuals interested in bidding for project contracts. Under the new rules, the contractor must also create a team involving several scientific institutions from several Member States.
Prior to publishing a call for tenders, the STOA panel may also commission external scientists to evaluate a request for a technology assessment. Scientists can also be commissioned to evaluate the quality of a study following its completion.
For further information on STOA and the new STOA rules, please visit: