EPTA – The European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network

Technology is at the heart of our societies. It shapes and defines the way we live. On the one hand new and innovative technologies have a tremendous positive impact to improve our well-being. However on the other hand they create severe problems for example pollution and environmental degradation, health hazards or risks of catastrophic events.

It is therefore not surprising that in many political debates and decisions today, science and technology play a crucial role. Which energy technologies need to be developed and how can emerging technologies be supported to transform our energy systems in a sustainable way? Do we want to invest in geo-engineering technologies to save the earth's climate? Will technological advances in healthcare be a driver for rising costs or an opportunity for cost savings for the welfare systems? How can we seize the economic opportunities of innovative information and communication technologies and at the same time address the risks for critical infrastructure failure and keep privacy issues at bay? How do ethical considerations and international humanitarian law relate to the procurement of unmanned autonomous systems armed for combat?

Dating back to the 1970s Parliamentarians in many legislative chambers started to feel the need to have access to balanced, comprehensive and independent information on science and technology issues in order to be able to respond to questions like these in an appropriate way. This was the starting point for the establishment of a number of Parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) units throughout Europe with the overarching idea to strengthen the role of parliaments in the political arena, especially addressing political issues involving the possible social, economic and environmental impacts of science and technology.

PTA nowadays is institutionalised in many different ways, ranging from permanent parliamentary committees for TA, separate TA units as part of the parliamentary administration; to independent institutions with a mandate to serve as a permanent consulting institution for Parliament.

The European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network (EPTA) currently is composed of 14 full members and 4 associate members. The members of the EPTA network are European organisations, which carry out TA studies on behalf of parliaments. EPTA aims to advance the establishment of technology assessment as an integral part of policy consulting in parliamentary decision-making processes in Europe, and to strengthen the links between TA units in Europe.

The EPTA network was formally established in 1990 under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament, Mr Enrique Baron Crespo. The network has a light structure, guided by the EPTA Council and by meetings of the Directors of the EPTA partner organisations.

The EPTA Council is the steering committee of the EPTA network, and consists of members of Parliament or representatives of the advisory boards for the respective EPTA organisation. The council decides on organisational matters such as co-operation within the network and the status of members and associates.

The presidency of EPTA moves each year. The tasks of the EPTA member organisation holding the presidency are to coordinate the EPTA network activities and to host the annual EPTA Conference, Council Meeting and Directors' meeting.

 

EPTA MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS:

  • Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA), European Parliament
  • Teknologirådet - Danish Board of Technology (DBT)
  • Committee for the Future, Finnish Parliament - Tulevaisuusvaliokunta
  • Instituut Samenleving en Technologie (IST) - Institute Society and Technology, Flemish Parliament
  • Office Parlementaire d'Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques (OPECST) - Parliamentary Office for Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Options, French Parliament
  • Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag (TAB) - Office of Technology Assessment at the German Parliament
  • Committee on Technology Assessment, Greek Parliament
  • Comitato per la Valutazione delle Scelte Scientifiche e Tecnologiche (VAST) - Committee for Science and Technology Assessment, Italian Parliament
  • Rathenau Institute, Netherlands
  • Teknologirådet - Norwegian Board of Technology (NBT)
  • Zentrum für Technologiefolgen-Abschätzung - Centre for Technology Assessment at the Swiss Science and Technology Council (TA-Swiss)
  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), UK
  • CAPCIT (Consell Assessor del Parlament sobre Ciència i Tecnologia) - The Advisory Board of the Parliament of Catalonia for Science and Technology
  • The Parliamentary evaluation and research unit, Swedish Parliament
 

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS:

  • Sub-Committee on Science and Ethics of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Strassbourg
  • Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung (ITA), Austria
  • Belgian Federal Office for Scientific, Technological and Cultural Affairs (OSTC), Belgium
  • The Bureau of Research (BAS), Polish Parliament
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), USA

 

 

© EPTA, provided by ITA; version 03/2013