Heyvaert, Veerle. (1997) "The changing role of science in regulatory decision-making in the European Union". In: UNSPECIFIED, Seattle, WA. (Unpublished)
Expert advice to policy-makers is everything but a new phenomenon. Throughout the ages, governments of every type and denomination have consulted people and organisations which were considered the producers, preservers and guardians of specific kinds of knowledge, whether engineers, astrologists, military strategists or economists. What is particular about the second half of this century is therefore not so much the existence of expert policy advisors as such, but the growing importance of one specific community as a source of knowledge and expert information in policy-making processes: the scientific community (Brooks et al., 1987). These introductory remarks refer to a development that is thoroughly studied and documented in contemporary scholarship. It is almost equally well-established that not every country receives, processes and uses expert policy advice in the same manner. In other words, policy studies differ according—to name but a few influences—to historical developments, institutional arrangements, and the different substantive urgencies which policy-makers are confronted with. This paper started as a reaction to one of the works which discuss the difference in use and integration of scientific expertise into policy decision-making between European countries and the United States, more in particular in the area of environmental and health and safety policy. It asks whether the emergence and maturing of a new level of policy-making in Europe, the European Union level, affects the way in which scientific expertise is used for the development of public policy and, if so, whether these changes could be expected to render this new policy-style more or less similar to the US model of integrating expertise into decision-making. In this analysis, particular attention is paid to the role of the European Court of Justice in re-shaping European styles of health and environmental science-policy decision-making, both at the EU and at the Member State level. If, as the paper argues, an approximation of styles is indeed to be expected, it becomes important for the European Union to look with renewed interest at the current problems faced in the United States relating to the acceptance of science as prevalent input into public policy, to anticipate an emergence of similar issues in Europe and to consider possible solutions.
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