Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions
CATALONIA - THE ADVISORY BOARD OF THE PARLIAMENT OF CATALONIA FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The Advisory Board of the Parliament of Catalonia for Science and Technology (CAPCIT by its abbreviation in Catalan) was set up in 2008 by the Parliament of Catalonia. CAPCIT provides a forum in order to present the members of the Parliament of Catalonia with the technology assessment (TA) tasks conducted by several Catalan scientific and technical institutions. CAPCIT aims to coordinate all information and counseling required by the Parliament of Catalonia in terms of science and technology.
The Parliament of Catalonia has placed major emphasis on scientific and technical issues and it has cooperated with several science and technology dissemination and research institutions. Even so, CAPCIT is the first scientific and technical advisory body to be set up directly by the Parliament of Catalonia. The Parliament of Catalonia is the only parliament in Spain to have a scientific and technical advisory body. Accordingly, there is no analogous technology assessment (TA) body attached to the Spanish Parliament or indeed to any of the other autonomous regional parliaments.
CAPCIT is a body attached to the Parliament of Catalonia; nonetheless, it bears a nature, structure and undertakes duties that make it stand out from the other bodies of the Parliament of Catalonia. CAPCIT is a mixed body, composed of a total of 18 members as follows:
- 9 are members of the Parliament of Catalonia: 6 Members of Parliament (MPs) are appointed, one for each of the six parliamentary groups represented in the Parliament of Catalonia; 2 MPs are members of the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia, as well as the president of the Parliament, who also holds the presidency of CAPCIT.
The IEC is the scientific academy of Catalonia and also the academy for the Catalan language. The FCRI is an institution whose goal is to support and promote research and innovation. C4 is devoted to scientific dissemination. And ACUP´s main purpose is to be the principal voice of the universities of Catalonia.
- 9 are representatives from the main scientific and technical institutions of Catalonia: the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC) with 3 representatives; the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI, 2 representatives); the Catalan Council for Scientific Communication (C4, 1 representative), and finally, the Catalan Public University Association (ACUP, 3 representatives).
The staff working for CAPCIT is limited. The preparation of meetings as well as other administrative tasks and services are carried out by officials from the Parliament of Catalonia. In particular, the secretary of CAPCIT is one of the lawyers for Parliament. On the other hand, once a decision is made within CAPCIT for one of the scientific and technical institutions to be charged with drafting a report, said institution will draw on its own staff and resources.
CAPCIT is the body charged with discussing and making decisions on its working plan and the issues about which it is necessary to prepare technology assessment (TA) reports. Therefore, not only politicians decide what issues must be worked on and what issues need to be addressed in a report, the members of the scientific and technical institutions are also involved from the outset on choosing the issues and giving advice on the suitability of devoting time and resources to specific topics. Furthermore, the following bodies may request CAPCIT to work on a particular topic: the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia and its committees.
Once CAPCIT decides that it is necessary to address a particular topic or the issue has been put forward to the body by the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia or any of the parliamentary committees, a decision needs to be made as to who shall be responsible for drawing up the report. The various alternatives are as follows:
- One of the scientific and technical institutions represented in CAPCIT should prepare the report.
- Preparation of the report should be commissioned to a different scientific and technical institution and proceedings will be initiated to appoint said institution.
TheParliament of Catalonia has developed an awareness of the fact that in the age we live in, parliaments are not familiar with what is the most suitable way to provide support to scientific and technical innovations, and oftentimes they do not realise all the implications posed by the current scientific and technical revolution.
In this sense, CAPCIT has the following goals:
- Contributing to the improvement of the scientific and technical knowledge of the Parliament and disseminating it among Catalan society.
- Channelling participation from the main scientific and technical institutions when it comes to shaping the will of the Parliament in these spheres.
- Cooperating with institutions, bodies, professional associations, universities and other organisations and institutes that operate in the fields of science and technology as well as coordinating with them.
The principle for all actions undertaken by CAPCIT is founded on fostering diversity in opinion and scientific and technical alternatives in order to ensure the consultancy provided is neutral, objective and independent.
- Promoting shared responsibility with regard to public science and technology policies.
Generally speaking, the material working fields of CAPCIT are as follows:
- Science, in the broadest sense
- Technology, the Internet and communications
Since its inception, CAPCIT has worked on the following areas:
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs or transgenic)
A popular legislative initiative was presented in the Parliament of Catalonia which sought to ban genetically modified crops. CAPCIT decided to call for three reports on the topic from various scientific institutions represented on CAPCIT prior to discussing the issue in the plenary session of the Parliament of Catalonia.
Proposals had been submitted in the Parliament of Catalonia to restrict vaccinations for this virus and more information was sought on the issue before making a decision.
In this case the aim was to turn to good account the work being conducted by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation and said foundation was asked to present its work to CAPCIT.
- Dissemination and education in the above spheres
CAPCIT is a specialist body of the Parliament of Catalonia, though its work does not merely affect the 9 MPs who are among its members. The counseling given on scientific and technical issues and the gathering of information concerns all the bodies of the Parliament of Catalonia and their members. Accordingly, CAPCIT distributes the reports prepared by the various scientific and technical institutions among all parliamentary groups who are then required to forward them to the MPs. Likewise, depending on the topic, CAPCIT will send its reports directly to the respective competent parliamentary committees. In a case such as the one relating to the reports on genetic engineering, it was deemed pertinent to forward the reports to the association promoting the popular legislative initiative which collected signatures to call for genetically modified crops to be banned.
COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICATIONS
As mentioned, its reports are not published; rather, they are distributed, unless the scientific and technical institution that prepared them undertakes the task of publishing them. Along these lines, the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation published its report on nanotechnology which can be viewed at the following link: www.fcri.es/descarregues/2009_8_7_informe_nanotech_cata_la.pdf
STATUS QUO AND THE WAY AHEAD
One of the main challenges facing CAPCIT is to firmly establish itself as a body of the Parliament par excellence. The regularity of the institution´s meetings and the number of issues it deals with will depend primarily on the interest shown by the bodies and the members of the Parliament. Therefore it is a constant challenge for CAPCIT to maintain a high level of familiarity among MPs and to increase their interest in CAPCIT´s work. This is especially important in the period after an election, because new MP´s have to be familiarized with CAPCIT and its work. Another of the challenges facing CAPCIT is to set out a clearer definition of the role to be played by Catalan scientific and technical institutions in its meetings and in the preparation of the reports they draw up. One of the perceived strengths is for the various institutions to provide their opinion on the topics to be addressed; even so, when it comes to choosing the working issues it should not be overlooked that the decision-making must be conducted from a political standpoint to a certain degree.
Consell Assessor del Parlament sobre Ciència i Tecnologia (CAPCIT)
Parlament de Catalunya
Parc de la Ciutadella, s/n
08003 Barcelona (Catalonia, SPAIN)
Fernando Domínguez Garcia
Secretary of CAPCIT
Legal adviser to the Parliament of Catalonia
© EPTA, provided by ITA; version 03/2013