The Congress of Deputies will bring to a meeting of its Bureau the proposal to set up a scientific advisory office so that all Members of Parliament will be able to find out what science has to say about any issue up for debate, as is already the case in the United Kingdom, Germany and Denmark, among other nearby countries. The proposal prospered after it was supported by the professional association of lobbyists APRI and by the Minister for Science and Innovation Pedro Duque. The motto of its promoters is “The specialist informs, the expert advises and the politician decides”.
The processing of the proposal by the bureau of the Congress of Deputies was pushed forward by the President of the Congress Meritxell Batet, immediately after an event held to promote science in Parliament was organised on 17 September by the Association of Professionals in Institutional Relations (APRI). APRI is an organisation that brings together more than a hundred lobbyists and the main international consulting companies and that is clearly committed to transparency and the regulation of interest groups in order to avoid corrupt practices or the lack of information regarding the “revolving door” of politics.
The setting up of this office will come about 22 months after receiving the full support of the Congress of Deputies, for the first time, in 2018 while Ana Pastor (PP) was the President of the Congress. After that, in 2019, when Meritxell Batet (PSOE) was already the President, she agreed to the creation of the academic advisory office with an allocation of 200,000 euros. However, the Budget in which this item was included was never approved. But the recent APRI event has received the full backing of the Minister for Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, who has made sure that the the creation of this office, with an even slightly increased allocation, is included in the 2021 Budget and who has encouraged the President of the Congress of Deputies to help this initiative come to fruition.
The APRI event, intended to push forward the creation of this office, happened before political warfare over how to deal with the pandemic broke out between the PSOE-Podemos coalition government and the PP government of the Madrid region supported by Ciudadanos and Vox. In the face of this state of affairs, the 55 scientific societies that promoted the First COVID Congress urged the national and regional governments and citizens to “react” and this weekend launched a petition for a truce under the slogan “In health, you are in charge but you don’t know” which, by midday on Monday, had been signed by some 20,000 people who had left messages like “stop arguing and hurry up”. These 55 scientific societies claim to represent 171,356 health professionals.