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Europe needs better, more strategic crisis management, according to independent scientific and ethics advisors

Europe needs better, more strategic crisis management, according to independent scientific and ethics advisors

22 November 2022
The European Union is dealing with an increasing number of complex, overlapping cross-border crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to the scientific and ethical recommendations given to the Commission in Strasbourg, the Union has to improve how it prepares for and responds to crises.

An evidence review report, policy recommendations, and a detailed ethics statement have been prepared by the EU Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) and the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) and have been jointly presented to Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth, and Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management.

Commissioner Gabriel said: “Expert advice is pivotal in moments of crisis, as COVID-19 and climate change have shown. I welcome the contributions of the Scientific Advice Mechanism and the European Group on Ethics, whose collaborative work has become a pillar of our crisis response ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic”

Commissioner Lenarčič said: “Europe is facing a changing risk landscape. Crises are growing in number, in severity and in frequency every year. The EU is determined to strengthen the European crisis management system in response to this trend. To do this effectively, we need to rely on scientific evidence, advice and recommendations. I wish to thank the Scientific Advice Mechanism and the European Group on Ethics for preparing this Scientific Opinion on Strategic Crisis Management. It will help shape and inform our work in humanitarian aid, civil protection and emergency relief.”

The Evidence Review report stresses that crises are changing in nature, transcending borders and sectors, and having cascading and overlapping consequences on society, the economy and the environment. They aggravate inequalities and disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged. Therefore the EU must reconsider traditional – often sectoral – approaches to risk and crisis management.

Based on this scientific evidence, the Chief Scientific Advisors passed over to the European Commission the following recommendations:

  • The EU should plan and prepare for crises over the full timeline, from preparedness to response and recovery. Synergies between crisis mitigation measures should be considered
  • The EU should strengthen synergies between European institutions as well as between European institutions and member states; the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) could play a larger role in facilitating the exchange of information and needs
  • To strengthen the EU’s resilience, the Advisors urge for more scalable, fast-deployable and efficient EU financial mechanisms
  • Decision-makers at all levels should also work closely with civil society and the private sector

According to the European Group on Ethics, values play an essential role in how crises are perceived and addressed because they determine the framing of the problems that crisis management is expected to solve and how the tools for doing so are chosen.

On this basis, the group formulated recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders, which include, among others:

  • Solidarity should be a guiding principle for strategic crisis management and solidaristic institutions should be strengthened at all levels
  • Human dignity and solidarity should guide the allocation of scarce resources, also to avoid undue discrimination and ensure special consideration of disadvantaged people
  • Governments have a duty to combat poverty and inequities, multipliers of the impact of crises
  • The values upon which the decisions and recommendations of government agencies are based must be made clear and open to public scrutiny and appeal

The items above are only some of the key findings from the two reports and statement. For more information, please consult the links below.

Background

The 2 advisory groups have previously collaborated in response to the pandemic, joining efforts also with Professor Peter Piot, special advisor to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the response to COVID-19.

Their work includes a “Joint statement on scientific advice to European policy makers during the COVID-19 pandemic” (06/2020) and a joint Scientific Opinion on “Improving pandemic preparedness and management” (11/2020).

Related advice

Strategic crisis management in the EU
Crisis management key image