The need for independent and credible expert assessments
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted by the
Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 9 March
2012 (see Doc. 12873,
report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable
Development, rapporteur: Mr Preda).
1 Recent events have highlighted
the vital need for independent, impartial expert assessments in
fields such as the environment, health, energy, finance or civil
2 Too many expert assessments are based on causal hypotheses,
the implications of which are sometimes unknown. Experts therefore
often lack the requisite distance to gauge the medium- and long-term impact
on the environment and human health.
3 In this context, the Parliamentary Assembly notes that the
findings of these assessments vary according to the source of funding,
and that an expert’s approach can be different when assessments
are made after incidents, when the implications are economic, financial
and possibly political.
4 The Assembly regrets that economic interests and the lack
of full, transparent information have led to many health care scandals
(contaminated blood and growth hormones, asbestos, etc.), which
have had serious repercussions on human health.
5 The Assembly considers that a legal framework could help reinforce
the credibility of expert assessments by preventing external pressure.
6 The Assembly considers that if expert assessments are to be
transparent and independent, they must be the subject of a debate
in which all the different points of view can be expressed, and
it would strongly recommend involving representatives of universities,
scientific and technological research circles and non-governmental
organisations, either as experts or as observers.
7 The Assembly also stresses the need to ensure the traceability
of expert assessments as a means of guaranteeing their independence.
The Assembly consequently invites the governments of member
and non-member States of the Council of Europe to:
8.1 call on the services of independent
experts, particularly in fields requiring in-depth scientific and technical
8.2 set up a public fund to finance “sensitive” expert assessments;
8.3 draw up a handbook of good practice and set up a high-level
multidisciplinary committee responsible for ensuring compliance
with ethical rules;
8.4 establish a system of consultation with representatives
of civil society;
8.5 prevent conflicts of interests, particularly vis-à-vis
“sensitive” expert assessments, by means of a declaration;
8.6 introduce an assessment traceability system in order to
enhance transparency and independence;
8.7 ensure proper follow-up of the consequences of expert
8.8 systematically disseminate expert assessment conclusions;
8.9 set up joint committees for transfrontier expert assessments;
8.10 adopt procedures for ensuring transparency and public