Making a difference: bridging EU research and policy
In support of the EU Green Deal, the so-called ENVI Agencies (ECDC, ECHA, EEA, EFSA and EMA) contribute to a sustainable One Health approach. In the coming decade, billions of euros will be dedicated to Research & Innovation (R&I) needed to support a transition towards more sustainability. EU Agencies, individually and collectively, can make a difference in supporting the EU Research Agenda. During the thematic session, we will look at their peculiar role at the crossroads of the science–policy interface, and will discuss their current and envisioned research involvement. We will present case studies showing the benefits of EU Agency involvement in research and will formulate recommendations on how they could be involved even more and thus generate additional value. EU Agencies that work closely together, in research and other areas, provide the EU with more holistic answers, which are needed for our society and the environment.
At the heart of the EU’s Green Deal, the European Commission’s strategies on biodiversity, zero pollution and farm-to-fork aim for a renewed and improved balance between nature, food systems and biodiversity to protect the environment, people’s health and well-being. In the coming decade, billions of euros will be dedicated to the necessary R&I needed to support this transition for example by significantly reducing the use and risk of chemicals and more hazardous pesticides, fertilizers and antimicrobials in agri- and aquaculture. EU agencies, individually and collectively, can make a difference in supporting the EU’s research and the European research area.
Background – Challenges and opportunities
The ONE Conference provides a unique occasion for EU agencies working in the remit of Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) to come together and to demonstrate the added value that they currently provide, and could further provide in the future, in support of the EU’s research agenda. EU agencies can help shape research agendas, avoid duplication of activities among research projects, maximise the results of R&I projects, and foster impactful research in support of regulatory science and policy. DG RTD is in contact with the agencies and other Commission services to agree on best practices on how to involve the EU decentralised agencies in Horizon Europe.
In 2018, the European Union Agencies Network for Scientific Advice (EU–ANSA) jointly published the EU-ANSA agencies' engagement in the EU research knowledge cycle. The technical and regulatory agencies that provide scientific advice to EU policymakers are both a source and a user of knowledge. Agencies have a deep understanding of the research knowledge available, as well as where knowledge gaps limit the quality of advice produced. The report illustrates how agencies engage with EU research funders and researchers in the research knowledge cycle, which is conceptualised as a sequence of identification of research needs, as advocacy of these needs to EU research funders and as an engagement with ongoing EU research projects.
The interim evaluation of the H2020 identified a number of areas for improvement where EU agencies can help, such as: greater outreach to civil society to better explain results and impacts, ‘widening’ to involve more low-performing R&I countries, more international cooperation, and making results more openly accessible to the wider scientific community and public. EU agencies already have well-established networks, involving many stakeholders, and offer a sustainable base on which to build partnerships under Horizon Europe.
In October 2020 the European Court of Auditors released a Special Report 22/2020: Future of EU agencies – Potential for more flexibility and cooperation. Its special audit assessed for the first time how well the EU agencies have been able to deliver EU policies for the public good. The report indicated further opportunities to strengthen cooperation by Strengthening the role of agencies as centres for sharing expertise and networking. Assessing how EU agencies can contribute more effectively to EU policies is essential for the future of Europe, because Europe relies on EU agencies more than ever – especially in a time of crisis . Alex Brenninkmeijer, reporting Member of the European Court of Auditors, argued: Cooperation between EU agencies also needs to reach another level. So far, synergies have been sought primarily in horizontal administrative processes such as IT and HR. Policy coordination and cooperation is a more promising area, and EU agencies can share views and need to learn to find their voice. Even agencies that do not seem very policy-driven … can actively contribute to cooperation on policies such as the Green Deal and Covid Recovery. …. In short, policy cooperation is crucial to EU agencies’ success, and needs to be fostered by their institutional partners. As far as EU citizens are concerned, individual EU agencies succeed only if the policy as a whole succeeds. 
During the 21st century, several health threats have emerged, linked to zoonotic and (re)emerging infectious diseases (e.g. COVID, SARS), climate change and environmental sustainability. These health threats are complex and cannot be solved by one sector alone. A comprehensive strategy and transdisciplinary collaboration on all aspects of health for people, animals and the environment are required, often referred to as the One Health approach. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of how public and animal health are intrinsically linked and showed the need for science-based interventions.
The focus of the thematic session will be on the science – policy interface. Agencies are knowledge centres bringing together the necessary know-how to inform policies. Agencies help to formulate policy-relevant research in support of public health, bring added value to Member States and citizens. EU agencies that work together closely, also in the area of research, provide the EU with integrated solutions that are needed for our society and the environment.
Scope and objectives
Making a difference! This thematic session will showcase the benefits that EU agencies already bring to the EU’s research agenda and explore what additional involvement they could have to add value. The session will discuss EU agency involvement ‘as is’ (what is the added value of EU agency involvement today) and ‘to be’ (what other involvement would be beneficial). The session will explore how EU agencies broker knowledge both upstream (from science to policy) and downstream (from policy/funding to science/society) by:
Science to Policy
- Strengthening the science-policy interface and helping research to deliver impact.
- Enhancing synergies between research efforts in respective EU agency domains of expertise.
- Making use of the outcomes of research projects and providing follow-up and sustainability.
- Providing capacity to facilitate innovation and digitalisation – helping basic research to lead to necessary systemic changes.
Policy to Science
- Providing policy-relevant knowledge and access to established expert networks.
- Disseminating research results and access to data: engaging with stakeholders and civil society.
- Offering cross-agency cooperation on issues demanding an integrated approach to knowledge development.
Opening and welcome
Mike Catchpole, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
Part I - Setting the scene
EU Agencies as transdisciplinary agents of change
Bernhard Url, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
Strengthening science-policy interfaces
Karen Fabbri, European Commission
Research collaboration across Agencies and national stakeholders
Robert van Gorcom, Wageningen University and Research (WUR)
Transition to moderated panel discussion
Mike Catchpole, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
Part II - Moderated panel discussion
Part III - Real life case-study
Making a difference: bridging EU research, Monitoring, Risk assessment and Policy on Antimicrobial Resistance
Valentina Rizzi, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
Part IV - Discussion with the audience
Part V - Wrap up
Wrap up and concluding remarks
Stephan Bronzwaer, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)