EASAC newsletter December 2013

News | Latest publications | Programme updates Energy Biosciences Environment


New EASAC President and Vice-Presidents at Council meeting in Rome

After serving as EASAC President for three years, Prof. Sir Brian Heap completed his term in office at the end of the Council meeting in Rome, 5-6 December 2013. The new EASAC President is Jos van der Meer, an eminent clinician and emeritus Professor of Radboud University Nijmegen, with specialisation on internal medicine and infectious diseases. He is the representative of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in EASAC. The Rome meeting also saw the announcement of EASAC's Vice-Presidents for the coming three years: Prof. J. Pálinkás (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Prof. M. Poliakoff (Royal Society, UK), Prof. L. Christophorou (Academy of Athens, Greece) and Prof. T. Courvoisier (Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences). The President, Vice-Presidents and immediate Past President together form the EASAC Bureau which meets quarterly to discuss ongoing EASAC business.

EASAC event at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

A major EASAC event will take place in the afternoon of 20 March 2014 at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The representatives of policy and science from Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Austria will be invited to discuss three recent EASAC reports: "Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing", "Planting the Future" and "Extreme Weather Events in Europe".

Latest publications

Carbon capture and storage in Europe

In its report on carbon capture and storage, EASAC experts examine the challenges that must be addressed to secure CCS as a viable component of strategies to mitigate climate change, and consequently to consider what contribution it may make in Europe to 2050. The report was officially launched in Brussels on 22 May 2013, where Chief Scientific Advisor Anne Glover moderated a panel discussion on the topic. A 'lay summary' of the report, for communicating about the technology with the wider public, was published in November 2013.

Warning on consequences of rejecting GM crops reopens debate

A new independent expert report from EASAC warns of the grave scientific, economic and social consequences of current European Union policy towards GM crops. In the strongest terms, the report also argues that Europe must reassess the accumulated evidence and the new advances since EU policy affects not only the European community, but also the developing world and Africa in particular. The report and a 'lay summary' of its content were officially launched in Brussels on 27 June 2013 and have already resulted in widespread comment and a reopening of the debate.

"Trends in extreme weather events in Europe" delivers wake-up call

An EASAC report on extreme weather events in Europe was presented in Brussels on 2 December 2013 to a packed audience at the Mission of Norway to the EU. Key members of the EASAC working group that had prepared the report attended the event to join a discussion with representatives of EU institutions on the continuing rise in extreme European weather trends over the last 30 years and their implications for Europe. The study had been led by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, under chairmanship of Prof. Øystein Hov, Director at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Programme updates

Energy Programme

EASAC responds to EU Commission consultations

Drawing on its report on carbon capture and storage and the advice of the working group, EASAC responded to the specific questions posed in the European Commission’s consultation on the "Future of carbon capture and storage in Europe". The responses can be found here . Furthermore, the Steering Panel of EASAC's Energy Programme has drafted a response to the consultation on the green paper "A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies". This response can be found here.

EASAC aims to reinvigorate EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan)

EASAC has published a short statement as contribution to the debate ensuing from the Commission communication on "Energy Technologies and Innovation" in May 2013. That communication includes the aim to reinvigorate the SET-Plan to meet the evolving challenges of sustainable energy provision in Europe. The EASAC statement can be downloaded here.

New report on Nuclear Fuel Cycle due in 2014

Against a background of uncertainty over the future of nuclear power, EASAC has finalised a report on "Nuclear Fuel Cycle" which will be published in early 2014 in collaboration with the JRC (Joint Research Centre) of the European Commission. In this report options for a responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste are discussed.

Breakthrough Technologies for a Low Carbon Future project nears completion

In this project, which is led by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science and Letters, EASAC, has made good progress in analysing the energy problem as primary challenge for the world. All supply options are studied, be they renewable, fossil or nuclear, because each has its own limitations and carries environmental and economic consequences. The resulting publication is expected for mid-2014.

Biosciences Programme

EASAC President's warning on GM crops published in Nature

Sir Brian Heap gave his view on Europe's GM policy in the Nature column World View, arguing that Europe should rethink its stance on GM crops. "The objective must be to regulate the product and not the technology that produces it", he says. Read the full article here.

New report on emerging risks to plant health in Q1/2014

The Steering Panel of EASAC's Biosciences Programme is finalising a short statement on plant health, focusing on emerging plant diseases, which will be published in early 2014. The presentation of EASAC's recommendations will be prepared in collaboration with the Greek presidency of the EU Council, in the first half of 2014. The launch of the report is planned for February or March 2014 in Brussels.

Joint workshop on Agricultural Biotechnology for Africa to be held in Addis Ababa

Building on the response to EASAC's report on crop improvement technologies, a joint workshop for European and African Union policy-makers as well as European and African scientists will be organised in Addis Ababa on 25-26 February 2014. During this event the possibilities of crop improvement technologies for sustainable agriculture in Africa will be discussed.

EASAC at the Commission's Innovation Convention

On 11 March 2014 EASAC will organise a fringe session during the European Union's Second Innovation Convention which will take place in Brussels under the patronage of the President of the European Commission, Mr. José Manuel Barroso. This EASAC fringe event, based on panel-led general discussion, will draw on recent work by EASAC on crop genetic improvement technologies (New Breeding Techniques as well as Genetic Modification) and on emerging plant diseases, to explore how innovation and its regulation must capitalise on the scientific opportunities now coming within range.

Antimicrobial drug discovery: greater steps ahead

From 6 - 8 March 2014 EASAC will organise a "Castle Meeting" at Schloss Herrenhausen, Hannover, Germany on "Antimicrobial drug discovery: greater steps ahead". The aim of this brainstorming workshop is to find and explore new approaches for the development of antimicrobial drugs as to guide original and innovative research, and thereby contribute to the combat of the antimicrobial crisis.

Environment Programme

Professor Micheal Norton appointed Secretary for EASAC's Biosciences Programme

In June 2013 Professor Michael Norton joined the EASAC team as the new Secretary for the EASAC Environment Programme. His previous professional experience is highly relevant to EASAC's work of providing science-based advice to EU policy-makers. Most notably, Professor Norton has worked as Director of the UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

EASAC to tackle Marine Sustainability issues

After extensive scoping work, the EASAC Council has in December 2013 decided to go ahead with a project on Marine Sustainability in 2014. The working group meetings will be partly supported by the JRC (Joint Research Centre). Relevant research areas of the EASAC project will include biological aspects of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other area-based management mechanisms, their effects on marine ecosystems, how they can be made most effective and how they can be used as tools within wider marine management frameworks at shelf-sea or ocean-basin scale.

Ecosystem services and Pollinators also on the agenda for 2014

At its meeting in December 2013 Council also approved a 2014 activity about ecosystem services, pollinators and agriculture, in response to the wide-spread concern in Europe about these substances. This group will take up its work in early 2014.


EASAC - the European Academies Science Advisory Council - is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States to enable them to collaborate with each other in providing advice to European policy-makers.Find Out More

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