What does technology assessment (TA) stand for in the era of Industry 4.0, and how can it actively support Europe's parliaments to sensibly integrate technical innovations into our society? For four years, TA partners from 15 countries collaborated intensively on the EU project PACITA to answer these questions.
The newly published book "Policy-Oriented Technology Assessment Across Europe" is one of the results of this collaboration. It offers insights into existing co-operations between parliaments and TA institutions, and points to TA’s potential to tackle nationally relevant topics such as Reflexive Governance, Sustainability, and Technology and Ageing.
ITA Director Michael Nentwich was one of PACITA’s initiators. He stresses the importance of international efforts on advocating for a parliamentary TA: "As the only Austrian TA institution, it is our goal to explore the potential new technologies and then to give this expertise to the public. Even more, we see TA as a channel that can support parliament in a social dialogue about technology and innovation. To ensure that our research is socially relevant, we need to gather feedback and at the same time we need to actively promote this dialogue throughout Europe. That's not always easy.”
The book, published by PACITA partner Denmark, contains a TA Manifesto. ITA staff wrote or co-wrote three of the 12 articles. Successful cooperation between politics and a nonpartisan science are presented from a variety of angles. "We argue that technology assessment should be an integral part of a democratic science and technology policy," stresses Nentwich.
PACITA stands for "Parliaments and Civil Society in Technology Assessment”. The project was initiated by members of EPTA, the European Network for Parliamentary Technology Assessment. In addition to Austria and Denmark the following countries were involved: Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Bulgaria, Portugal, Catalonia (for Spain), Switzerland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Hungary and Wallonia (for Belgium).
For Nentwich, PACITA is one more step in an ongoing development: „ We wanted to further strengthen the notion that a cooperation at the European level already works between those countries where policy makers make use of TA expert knowledge and those in which TA still has to establish itself more firmly as an independent advisory power.”