New members appointed to High Level Group of the Commission's Scientific Advice Mechanism

The High Level Group of the Commission's Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) welcomes two new world-class scientists.

Sir Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute and 2001 Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, becomes a member of the Group with effect from 1 March. The Group was also joined in November 2016 by Carina H. Keskitalo, Professor of Political Science at the Department of Geography and Economic History at Umeå University, when Dame Julia Slingo retired from the Group.

From today, Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, former Director General of CERN, becomes Chair, replacing Professor Henrik C. Wegener, who is leaving the Group at the end of February in light of his appointment as Rector of the University of Copenhagen. Professor Pearl Dykstra becomes Deputy Chair, replacing Professor Elvira Fortunato, who remains a member.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "I would like to warmly thank Professor Henrik C. Wegener, for his invaluable work as the first chair of the SAM High Level Group. I wish him well in his future endeavours. Under Professor Wegener's skilled chairmanship, the Group got off to flying start, already publishing two reports and starting work on four more. I am delighted to welcome Sir Paul Nurse to the Group, and I look forward very much to his contributions".

The High Level Group supports the European Commission with high quality, timely and independent scientific advice. Since its first meeting on 29 January 2016, the Group has published an explanatory note on scientific advice for the regulatory assessment of Glyphosate in plant protection products (June 2016) and issued its first scientific opinion, on the measurement of CO2emissions from cars, in November 2016.

Discussions in the sixth meeting of the High Level Group taking place today and tomorrow focused on the preparation of a scientific opinion on Cybersecurity in the European Digital Single Market and an explanatory note on New Techniques in Agricultural Biotechnology, which are expected to be adopted in March 2017. The Group is also preparing a scientific opinion on Food from Oceans and will provide support to the forthcoming Evaluation of Pesticides Legislation to be published later this year.


The aim of the Scientific Advice Mechanism is to ensure that the Commission has access to the best possible scientific advice, independent of institutional or political interests. It brings together evidence and insight from different disciplines and approaches, taking into consideration the specificities of EU policy making, and ensures transparency. It complements the in-house scientific services of the Joint Research Centre, agencies and existing specialist committees.

The two new members of the High Level Group (HLG) were selected by Commissioner Moedas from the short-list which was presented to him in October 2015 by the Independent Identification Committee, and from which the original seven members of the HLG were initially chosen. As outlined in Article 3 of the Commission Decision of 16 October 2015 establishing the HLG, the Group shall be composed of seven members with an outstanding level of expertise and collectively covering a wide range of scientific fields and expertise. Members are appointed in their personal capacity and shall act independently and in the public interest. The change in Chair and deputy Chair derives from the Decision establishing the HLG, which requires that these roles should be designated on an annual basis.


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