History and mission

Many of the issues coming before the EP decision-makers have a scientific or technological dimension to them. Scientific and technological advances lie at the heart of economic growth, and it is necessary to understand the impact of new and emerging technologies and how to best support technological innovation. In this context, there is a growing need for legislators and policy-makers at national and European level to rely on independent, impartial and accessible information about developments in science and technology (S&T), the opportunities they offer, but also the risks they entail and their ethical implications.

Composition and role of the STOA Panel

The STOA Panel forms an integral part of the structure of the European Parliament. It is composed of 25 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are nominated by nine permanent Committees of the Parliament: AGRI, CULT, EMPL, ENVI, IMCO, ITRE, JURI, LIBE and TRAN. The EP Vice-President responsible for STOA is a Member of the Panel ex officio. The members of the STOA Panel are appointed for a renewable two-and-a-half-year period. The list of members is available below. The STOA Bureau is comprised of the STOA Chair, the STOA 1st Vice Chair and the STOA 2nd Vice Chair, all three elected by the STOA Panel, and the EP Vice-President responsible for STOA.

The STOA Panel carries the political responsibility for STOA's work. The Panel decides on all STOA's activities. In its meetings the Panel reviews progress and hears presentations of ongoing or recently-completed projects. The Panel meetings are open to the public and can be followed via webstreaming. All MEPs are invited to participate, but only Panel members vote.

Thematic priority areas

The following are the main focus areas of the Panel (STOA Panel meeting of 9 July 2015):

  1. Eco-efficient transport and modern energy solutions;
  2. Sustainable management of natural resources;
  3. Potential and challenges of the Internet;
  4. Health and new technologies in the life sciences;
  5. Science policy, communication and global networking.

STOA's mission

The main components of STOA's mission are (STOA Rules, Article 1):

  • providing Parliament's Committees and other parliamentary bodies concerned with independent, high-quality and scientifically impartial studies and information for the assessment of the impact of possibly introducing or promoting new technologies and identifying, from the technological point of view, the options for the best courses of action to take;
  • organising forums in which politicians and representatives of scientific communities or organisations and of society as a whole discuss and compare scientific and technological developments of political relevance to civil society;
  • supporting and coordinating initiatives to strengthen parliamentary technology assessment activities in the Member States of the European Union, including creating or enhancing parliamentary technology assessment capacities in European countries, especially new Member States.

STOA mainly carries out its mission by conducting Technology Assessment and Scientific Foresight projects and organising events. Any MEP or EP body may submit a proposal to the STOA Panel for STOA activities to be carried out. STOA also cooperates with other parliamentary technology assessment bodies, especially those gathered in EPTA (for more information visit the 'STOA Network' section).

Brief STOA history

In October 1985, the EP adopted a report by then MEP Rolf LINKOHR "on the establishment of a European Parliament Office for Scientific and Technological Option Assessment". Following a decision by the EP Bureau in June 1986, STOA was officially launched in March 1987, first as a pilot project and, as of September 1988, on a permanent basis.

STOA's activities were initially governed by a series of the EP Bureau decisions. On 13 January 2003, the EP Bureau adopted STOA Rules defining the nature of STOA, describing STOA bodies and setting the framework conditions for STOA projects. Throughout years, the STOA Rules were subject to modifications by the EP Bureau (19 April 2004, 4 May 2009, 11 November 2009, and 18 May 2015). The STOA Rules are available at the bottom of this webpage.