Where Science Meets EU Policymaking — 10 Examples

From preserving our democracy to education and culture, science guides EU policymaking in more ways than you might think!

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Scientists at our Joint Research Centre (JRC) support EU policymaking in a wide range of areas. They come up with innovative and technological solutions that drive progress, are part of your everyday life, help protect the planet, and save lives in emergencies.

The JRC is all about bringing scientific knowledge together for Europe and its people. Scientists at JRC carry out research and provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy, from conception and design to implementation and monitoring.

Here are 10 examples of how research by the JRC has helped the EU achieve its goals.

1. Natural Disasters

Getting to safety before disaster strikes is important. This is where real-time warning systems can make a huge difference.

No one can outrun a tsunami. But if alerted in real-time, people have a better chance of reaching higher ground. Scientists recently tested our tsunami alert system in Greece, working with Kos island emergency services and the local community.

The system is designed to warn people on the shoreline directly. It measures seismic waves and sea level and sends warning in real-time — using sirens and loudspeakers on the coast — giving them time to get to safety.

In case of a sudden major disaster, the EU-UN Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System automatically alerts some 25,000 disaster managers worldwide. It issues alerts for floods, volcanoes, tropical cyclones and earthquakes, as well as for possible tsunamis that might follow.

2. Food

So you know what you’re buying when you go to the supermarket.

Similar or identical packaging of two products does not always mean the same quality of food. We analysed nearly 1,400 food products in 19 EU countries. Result? 29% of products with the same or similar front-of-pack had a different composition.

Thanks to the EU harmonised testing methodology for dual food quality, national authorities can now compare the composition of food products sold with similar packaging across the EU. This can help fight unfair commercial practices.

3. Climate Change

Changing the way we live may look daunting, but what is the cost of business as usual?
The JRC has been analysing the socio-economic impact of future climate change in Europe with its PESETA studies for more than 10 years. The latest edition reveals the devastating impact in the EU if the temperature were to rise by 3°C or more by the end of the century, compared to the pre-industrial era.

Without climate mitigation & adaptation, heatwaves will cause 90,000 annual deaths, compared to around 3,000 currently. Heatwaves in southern Europe will increase more dramatically and water availability in summer will be almost halved. Alpine tundra in Europe will contract by 84% and practically disappear in the Pyrenees, shrinking vulnerable ecosystems and damaging biodiversity in those areas.

But if we act to keep global warming below 2°C, impacts will be considerably reduced. For example:

  • more than half of the alpine tundra would remain stable;
  • 60,000 fewer people would die each year due to heatwaves;
  • annual drought losses would be reduced by €20 billion,
  • nearly 2 million people annually could be spared from flooding on river and coastal plains.

4. Health

Supporting people with rare diseases.
Over 300 million people in the world are living with a rare disease. The information about these diseases is very scattered. The JRC created the European platform on rare disease registration — it aggregates fragmented data and makes them searchable and findable across rare disease registries.

This in turn can drive quality research and give hope to patients and their families.

5. Education

Getting schools into the digital age.

Schools can definitely improve the use of technology for teaching and learning, but they often do not know how to. There is a free, online tool that can help to solve this and it’s called SELFIE.

The tool allows teachers, students and school leaders to ‘get a picture’ of their own level of digital competence and define an action plan accordingly. More than 7,000 schools in 57 countries are already using this tool!

6. Cultural heritage

Rebuilding damaged monuments.
The JRC developed a 3D-backpack that maps indoor environments. It has a mobile laser scanner that takes measurements that can be used to help plan the reconstruction of damaged historic buildings.

Fun Fact: This 3D-backpack was originally developed to enable nuclear safeguards inspectors to create 3D images of locations that need to be monitored, such as nuclear waste storage facilities.

7. Democracy

A better understanding of how people think and feel about political issues.

Knowing how people communicate with each other and understanding their values and identities helps to improve policymaking in the EU. That’s why the JRC recently published an in-depth report on Understanding Our Political Nature.

To bring scientists and policymakers closer and to improve the use of evidence when designing new policies, the JRC has also been working on a Knowledge4Policy platform, documenting progress along the way.

The platform brings together data, tools and analyses to make sense of knowledge from across Europe and beyond, and to make it available to policymakers across the EU.

8. Energy & Smart homes

Consuming energy differently and communicating with appliances.
As you are heading home, you take your smartphone and open the door so a delivery can be left, ask to be notified once your electric car is charged, and check how much electricity you’ve sold today back to the power system, thanks to the solar panels you installed last year. Everything is done remotely.

In the not so distant future, the energy grid and appliances will to be able to “talk” to each other and be connected to your smart device via the internet. The JRC’s Smart Grid Interoperability Lab in Petten, The Netherlands is available for producers, researchers, and other stakeholders to test potential technological solutions.

9. Digital

Staying safe online.
“Happy Onlife 2” is a game to teach kids to recognise cybersecurity risks and stay safe online. Players must answer quiz questions designed to get them thinking about how to make the most of the internet while avoiding potential dangers. Anyone can play online or request a board game copy.

The JRC has also developed MECSA, a tool to help users make sure their e-mail providers are adequately protecting their e-mail exchanges.

Check it out here — it takes only a few minutes to get a security analysis.

10. Migration

More interaction, better integration.
Public perception of immigration is closely linked to views on integration, researchers say. Those who perceive integration as successful also tend to see immigration as an opportunity. To explore data on migration worldwide, check out our Atlas of migration — it covers 198 countries and territories and provides data on demography, asylum, integration and development.

We are not only listening to scientists when it comes to policymaking but also supporting them financially through various programmes like Horizon Europe. This is the EU’s largest research and innovation framework programme ever. It has the potential to generate significant economic, social and scientific impacts, and will also strengthen the scientific and technological bases of our Union.

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Official Medium account of @EU_Commission | Stories, posts & articles about our work. Our social media policy: https://ec.europa.eu/info/social-media-use

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