Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions



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:

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.


Many of the issues coming before the European Parliament (EP) nowadays have a scientific or technological dimension to them. Technological and scientific advances lie at the heart of economic growth, and it is necessary to understand the impact of these technologies and how to best support scientific and 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.

STOA´s mission

The launch of STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment), in 1987, was the European Parliament´s response to this need.
The main components of the STOA´s mission are (STOA Rules, Article 1):

Brief STOA history

In October 1985, the EP adopted a report "on the establishment of a European Parliament Office for Scientific and Technological Option Assessment", which stressed "the particular needs of the standing committees and political groups in technical and political decision-making, which can be met only by an autonomous technology assessment office" and proposed "that a European Parliament office for scientific and technological option assessment should be set up ... to coordinate assessment work and award external contracts in support of its work".

Following a decision by the EP Bureau in June 1986, STOA was officially launched in March 1987 as an 18-month pilot project, at the end of which, in September 1988, the EP Bureau authorised STOA to continue its work on a permanent basis, on condition that it make its services available to all standing parliamentary committees. As such, STOA celebrated its 20 years of existence in 2007 with a major exhibition ("The STOA Experience") during the EP plenary session in Strasbourg in June of that year. In 2012 STOA marked its 25th anniversary with a very successful event on the discovery of the scalar boson predicted by R. Brout, F. Englert and P.Higgs, followed by a festive reception attended by all past STOA Chairmen.

STOA’s activities were initially governed by a series of Bureau Decisions, which were assembled in the Consolidated Internal Rules of Procedure of STOA and approved by the EP Bureau on 25 October 1999. 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. These rules were in force until the end of the 1999–2004 legislative period, whereupon the new STOA Rules, approved by the EP Bureau on 19 April 2004, entered into force.

In 2009, the STOA Rules were further modified, based on proposals submitted by the EP Vice-President responsible for STOA. The main purpose of these modifications was to add a European dimension to STOA’s mission and include an additional criterion for selecting STOA projects in alignment with the priorities defined by the STOA Panel, as well as to stipulate a second Vice-Chairman and simplify certain procedures. In 2015 the Rules were modified once again to account for the increase in STOA membership: from 15 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) representing six EP Committees, to 24 Members from eight Committees.


The Committee for the Future was established in 1993 from the very beginning as a committee in the Finnish Parliament. The creation at almost the same time of the Finland Futures Research Centre in Turku University and the Committee for the Future had the same motivation: to develop a national foresight system against the background of the recession that was afflicting Finland in the early 1990s. In the intervening period, thinking in relation to the future has become broadly and deeply rooted in Finnish society. The Finnish foresight system is of a versatility that is rare anywhere in the world.
Giving a standing committee within the Finnish parliamentary system a new, future-oriented role of this kind was not at all easy, for many reasons. What has been remarkable in light of this is that the initiative came from the legislators themselves.
Science, technology and creation of new concepts and ideas as well as revitalisation of institutions has been important, but so is the ability to recognise what will be permanent in the future and what ought to be.


The IST was founded by decree by the Flemish Parliament on 17 July 2000, as an independent, autonomously functioning organisation for technology assessment. At that time it was called viWTA (Flemish Institute for Science and Technology Assessment). After an evaluation in 2008, it has been renamed Institute Society and Technology.

As an autonomous institution associated with the Flemish Parliament, the Institute has its own executive board, which consists of 16 members. Eight of them are members of the Flemish Parliament, belonging to the various parties in the parliament. One of them will be appointed to the Presidency of the board. The other half is composed of experts from the Flemish scientific, technological, environmental and socio-economic communities.

The daily responsibility of the Institute is being held by the scientific secretariat. Besides a director and an administrative secretariat, the staff is composed of a small but thoroughgoing group of 4 up to 6 researchers and a communication manager.


Whereas science was long considered as a vehicle of knowledge, and not as the principle of an action, modern times have witnessed the development of sciences and technologies enabling mankind to act upon nature. However, in doing so, fresh problems and new concerns have arisen. From this observation was born the idea of technology assessment which appeared essential to scientific and political bodies. Mechanisms had to be put in place in order to control technical progress while, at the same time, anticipating its consequences.

In the early 1980’s, during a number of debates such as the orientations concerning nuclear, spatial or cable programmes, the French Parliament came to the conclusion that it was unable to assess Government decisions on the major directions of scientific and technological policy. It therefore decided to establish its own structure of assessment: the Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Assessment (Office Parlementaire d’Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques, OPECST).

The OPECST, which was set up by Law no.83-609 of July 8, 1983, following a unanimous vote of Parliament, aims, within the terms of the Law, "to inform Parliament of the consequences of the choice of scientific and technological options, in particular, so as to enable it to make enlightened decisions". To do this, it "collects information, launches study programmes and carries out assessments".


As in other industrialized countries, public debates on "Technology Assessment" started in Germany in 1972-1973, prompted by the creation of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the U.S. Congress and the prior intensive debate on TA and its institutionalization. This debate only bore fruit in 1989 with a parliamentary resolution to create the "Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag". The organizational model adopted has two key features.


The Research and Technology Committee, which was given the responsibility for initiating TA investigations and controlling them politically, was renamed "Committee for Research, Technology and Technology Assessment". The Committee's secretariat was expanded in line with these new responsibilities.


Under the terms of the Bundestag resolution, an appropriate scientific institution outside Parliament must be selected through tender and commissioned to establish and operate the TA unit. The legal basis for this is a supplement to section 56 of the Bundestag's Rules of Procedure. The TA unit to be established will work exclusively for the Bundestag. It has to ensure parliament-specific presentation and communication of the results of its work. On 29 August 1990, after a tendering procedure and at the proposal of the then Committee on Research and Technology, a contract was signed with the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Centre for a three-year pilot phase and the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) was founded. Since then, it has been operated by the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) Centre (before 1995 it was named AFAS, Department for Applied Systems Analysis) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), a merger of the Karlsruhe Research Centre and the University of Karlsruhe. After the conclusion of the pilot phase, the German Bundestag decided on 4 March 1993 to establish a permanent advisory institution "Technology Assessment (TA) at the German Bundestag", as a result of the positive findings of the responsible Committee for Research, Technology and Technology Assessment. Since that time, the TA unit is run on the basis of a series of contracts with a duration of five years each. The last major change was in 2002 the decision that ITAS would cooperate in specific areas with the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, Karlsruhe. The current contract runs till September 2013.


GPTCA is instituted at the onset of every legislative period upon the Parliament's decision following a proposal of the government or the presidents of the parliamentary groups. With the decision on the composition of the committee, the Parliament determines the topic that the committee will deal with and the deadline by which it will submit its findings. The special committees are composed by the one tenth (1/10) and up to the one fifth (1/5) of the total number of Members of Parliament (article 42). Currently it consists of 25 Members of Parliament representing all the parliamentary groups in the House.

Its task covers any matter within the sphere of research and technology development in order to give advice on relevant strategic issues. It is also entitled with the encouragement of international cooperation on technology assessment. Article 43 A of the Standing Orders of the Hellenic parliament provides also that the committee for the accomplishment of its task may cooperate with similar institutions functioning within the parliaments of other countries, encourage the international cooperation and research on TA matters and proceed to the exchange of information between the respective parliamentary institutions on TA.

The scientific support of its work is undertaken by the Directorate of Studies of the Hellenic Parliament. Several scientists and research fellows participate in the discussion meetings of the committee in order to present their points of view on TA matters..


In 1986, the Rathenau Instituut was founded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The institute is governed by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The ministerial decree establishing it guarantees the Institute's autonomy, including its financial autonomy.
The Rathenau Instituut has a Board whose members are appointed by the Minister, at the nomination of the sitting members of the Board, and in consultation with the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR).
The Institute's staff consists of a Chairman and Board, a Programme Council and a multidisciplinary team of scientific researchers and communication experts. In this team, physicists, biologists, statisticians, computer scientists and technical engineers cooperate with social and political scientists, philosophers and economists. Their common objective is to develop a clear picture of the political and societal debate and to feed and stimulate it as much as possible.
The institute employs approximately 50 people and has an annual budget of around 5 million EUR.


The Government appoints the 15 members of the board for 4-year terms. The members come from academia and business and encompass broad insights in different areas of technology and innovation as well as ethics and societal issues. The Board initiates new projects, which in turn are executed by its own secretariat. Chair of the Board is currently Mrs Siri Hatlen (appointed for the 2012–2016 period). The secretariat employs nine people, including one senior executive officer, six project managers and one information manager. The secretariat is led by the Director, Tore Tennøe.

The NBT is funded by the Government, but to ensure independence, The Norwegian Research Council acts as the supervising authority.

The Board’s main tasks are:


From 2007, the committees have been able to submit proposals and requests to the Parliamentary Evaluation and Research Unit (PER), which can assist in conducting technology assessments (TAs) within different areas. The unit, situated at the Committee services division, works on behalf of the committees of the Riksdag. Sweden has thus adopted the "Parliamentary unit model" which means that the parliament has its own office for TA studies.


Switzerland is known for its direct democracy. Citizens can participate in decision making with regard to their individual and their communal life. However, those who have felt the need for an institution carrying out technology assessment (TA) have formed a different opinion: "In our developed democracy it is possible to vote on milk prices but ... not on the great challenges ... as for instance the adoption (or the renunciation) of new technologies", explains René Longet, a former National assembly member. It was Longet who demanded an institutionalised technology assessment in order to encourage public debate on science and society, technology and democracy.

In 1991, the Swiss Science and Technology Council (SSTC) was granted a mandate to originate a technology assessment programme for the years 1992 to 1995. The SSTC was assigned to the Federal Department of Home Affairs (Eidgenössisches Departement des Innern, EDI). After a successful test phase, the mandate was extended and became statutory as part of the Swiss federal law on scientific research (Schweizerisches Bundesgesetz über die Forschung). Thereby, technology assessment was definitely accepted into the scope statement of the SSTC. Another amendment followed in 2007. The issue of the administrative affiliation of TA-SWISS was taken up again. As in a few other European countries, technology assessment was entrusted to the academies of sciences, in this case to the Swiss Academies of Art and Sciences (Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz). Since January 1, 2008, TA-SWISS has become a centre of excellence and an organisation unit of its own within the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. This independence has been formally acknowledge by TA-SWISS becoming a foundation in October 2016. A foundation council with six members representing the political and academic world is now responsible for the overall management of TA-SWISS.


For its first three years, POST operated outside of Parliament as a charitable foundation, funded by UK learned societies and scientific foundations.
The intention was always for POST to be an internal parliamentary office and in 1992 both Houses of the UK Parliament decided to take over its funding and to create a pioneering bicameral office. In 2000, both Houses took the decision to make POST a permanent institution at Parliament, after an examination by the House of Commons Information Committee and a debate in the Commons chamber.


Finally, in 1985, a small working party was founded at the Institute for Socio-Economic Development Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) around Ernst Braun, formerly the head of the Technology Policy Unit (University of Aston), giving rise on 1.1.1988 to the Technology Assessment Unit (FTB), which later, on 1.1.1994, became the Institute of Technology Assessment (Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung, ITA). Ernst Braun left Austria as director in 1991, and was succeeded first by Gunther Tichy and then, in 2006, by Michael Nentwich. The ITA is an associate member of EPTA and a founder member of the NTA (network of the German speaking TA community).


On May 5, 1949 ten Governments[1] signed in London the Statute of a new kind of European organisation, the Council of Europe, with two main statutory bodies: the Committee of Ministers (a conventional ministerial organ) and the Parliamentary Assembly, representing the political forces in the Member States.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (the Assembly) is the oldest international parliamentary Assembly with a pluralistic composition of democratically elected members. It is also the most comprehensive European parliamentary forum, today with delegations from 47 national parliaments (plus 3 delegations holding observer status).

The Assembly consists of 318 elected representatives (and an equal number of substitutes) from the Member States of the Council of Europe. The number of representatives from each country varies from eighteen to two depending on its population.[2] They must be elected or appointed from among the members of their national or federal Parliament. The balance of political parties within each national delegation must ensure a fair representation of the political parties or groups in the respective parliaments.

At present, the Assembly counts five political groups: the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP/CD); the Socialist Group (SOC); the European Democrat Group (EDG); the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE); and the Group of the Unified European Left (UEL). Political groups have to commit themselves to respect the promotion of the values of the Council of Europe, notably political pluralism, human rights and the rule of law.

The President of the Assembly and the leaders of the groups form the Presidential Committee of the PACE.

The President, twenty Vice-Presidents, the Chairpersons of the political groups or their representatives as well as the Chairpersons of the general PACE Committees or their substitutes make up the Bureau of the Assembly.

The Standing Committee consists of the Bureau and the Chairpersons of national delegations. It is generally convened at least twice a year and its major task is to act on behalf of the Assembly when the latter is not in session.

The Assembly Committees are composed of representatives or substitutes of the Assembly. They are reconstituted in January of each year, and elect their chairperson and three vice-chairpersons.

At present, the Assembly has 8 committees with the following memberships:

[1]      These were: the five members of the Brussels Treaty, i.e. Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as the Governments of Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway and Sweden.

[2]      Parliamentary delegations with their number of representatives: Albania (4); Andorra (2); Armenia (4); Austria (6); Azerbaijan (6); Belgium (7); Bosnia and Herzegovina (5); Bulgaria (6); Croatia (5); Cyprus (3); Czech Republic (7); Denmark (5); Estonia (3); Finland (5); France (18); Georgia (5); Germany (18); Greece (7); Hungary (7); Iceland (3); Ireland (4); Italy (18); Latvia (3); Liechtenstein (2); Lithuania (4); Luxembourg (3); Malta (3); Moldova (5); Monaco (2); Montenegro (3); Netherlands (7); Norway (5); Poland (12); Portugal (7); Romania (10); Russian Federation (18); San Marino (2); Serbia (7); Slovakia (5).


The Bureau was established in 1991 as a unit of the Chancellery of the Sejm – an institution responsible for all administrative and organisational aspects of the Sejm’s activities.

The scope of research areas covered by BAS is wide and ranges from constitutional and legal matters, budgetary issues, EU policies and regulations, to variety of social and economic issues. BAS is not a typical TA institute (entirely devoted to TA problems): so far, information on new technologies in general and on technology assessment in particular, represent a small fraction in the scope of BAS’ portfolio. However, as the significance of new technologies is more apparent and awareness of their societal and environmental consequences is growing, one can expect that also the Sejm’s interest in TA will gradually increase bringing about a greater BAS involvement in TA research.


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(c) EPTA, provided by ITA; version 01/2017