Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions



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.


STOA Panel

The STOA Panel, which is an integral part of Parliament´s structure, is politically responsible for STOA´s work. It comprises 24 members with the right to vote: The members of the STOA Panel are appointed for a renewable two-and-a-half-year period. The Panel is reconstituted in the beginning and in the middle of each parliamentary term, following the appointment of its members by the eight committees. Monthly Panel meetings are held in Strasbourg and can be followed via webstreaming.

STOA Bureau

The STOA Bureau oversees the running of the STOA activities and prepares the Panel meetings. The STOA Panel in turn elects three members of the Bureau: the Chair and two Vice-Chairs. The Vice-President of the European Parliament responsible for STOA is ex officio also a member of the STOA Bureau.

STOA Secretariat

STOA´s operational responsibilities are with the STOA Secretariat, which is part the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) within Directorate C (Impact Assessment and European Added Value) of the EP's Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS). In addition to the STOA Secretariat, the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) comprises the Scientific Foresight Service, created in 2014.


Proposals for executing technology assessment (TA) and scientific foresight (SF) projects and organising events with a scientific and/or technological character are submitted by the various parliamentary committees and by individual MEPs and are discussed by the STOA Panel, in view of their adoption, usually based on a recommendation of the STOA Bureau. The proposals are approved by the STOA Panel on the basis of the following criteria (STOA Rules, Article 6): STOA remains sovereign in the final choice of subjects and the elaboration of the project specifications. In doing this, the Panel may accept, modify, merge or reject proposals submitted by committees or Members.


STOA's mission is fulfilled with generally recognized success through: The STOA Secretariat executes the decisions of the Panel with the assistance of external contractors who are selected based on the expertise needed by STOA and the financial regulation of the EU institutions.

STOA's external contractors can be research institutes, universities, laboratories, consultancies or individual researchers contracted to help prepare specific projects. In 2014 STOA signed new framework contracts with expert consortia covering the delivery of technological and scientific expertise in a broad range of areas, valid until 2018.

Once the projects are completed, but also when important interim results are obtained or when current events render some subjects politically interesting, STOA approaches the relevant committees and organises presentations by the experts. Similar presentations are also regularly organised in the context of the STOA Panel meetings.


The work of STOA is focused on the five thematic priority areas:

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

Recent projects

Projects were recently completed on the following subjects:

Recent workshops

Apart from workshops organised in the context of projects, STOA has recently organised workshops on such subjects as the following:


The work and products of STOA are primarily intended to aid MEPs in their decision-making. The staff of the EP and other European institutions may find STOA studies and events informative and useful for their work.

STOA studies are systematically published on the STOA website and the EP Think Tank pages, and the events are open to the public and also webstreamed for those unavailable to attend in person. Therefore, since the activities of STOA are accessible to anyone who is interested, researchers and experts, policy-makers in countries around the world, other TA institutions, but also civil society organisations and other citizens may read and use those of interest to them.


For each project, STOA produces several reports: In addition, STOA also produces reports following its events and an Annual Report highlighting the achievements in the preceding year. Interested parties can subscribe to our newsletter by sending us an e-mail to

STOA is increasingly relying on new media for reaching its target groups. It regularly publishes blog posts announcing its events and reporting on news, projects and workshops. Video clips presenting outcomes of the projects are produced and uploaded on STOA's YouTube channel, summarising the work of STOA in an easily accessible way. Our events are regularly supported by live tweeting, enabling the dissemination to and the dialogue with the wider community.

Follow STOA via:
STOA website:
EPRS blog:
EPRS Twitter:
EPRS LinkedIn:


STOA has been set up with a task to provide MEPs with scientific evidence for their decisions on issues with techno-scientific relevance. Assessing the impact of STOA and similar bodies and institutions is not straightforward because the legislation seldom quotes studies and reports. Also, policy-makers consult many different sources of information on a particular topic. Therefore, finding ways to directly assess the impact on decision-making in an objective way remains STOA's goal for the future.

Nevertheless, some information exists that indirectly illustrates the impact of STOA.

A recent increase in STOA Panel membership (from 15 to 24 MEPs) reflects a high interest among MEPs and committees and justifies the need for having STOA as a permanent structure of the EP. At the beginning of 2014 STOA carried out a survey among the 15 MEPs that formed the STOA Panel at the time, and a sample of the EP staff. The results showed that MEPs strongly agreed on their need for impartial science-based information, recognised STOA as a credible information source, but also considered that there was room for improving the quality of information, the format of products and the promotion of STOA, especially among MEPs who do not sit on the STOA Panel.

A very popular study on 'Mass surveillance of IT users' was published in the beginning of 2015. Around the same time, the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) produced a very successful report on 'Ten technologies which could change our lives', which is meant to feed into the priorities of the STOA Panel and parliamentary committees, in view of possible anticipatory, precautionary or regulatory action at European level.

Currently, more than 300 STOA newsletter subscribers are proactively informed about our studies and events.


A STOA strategy for the future was discussed and adopted by the outgoing STOA Panel at the end of the 7th legislative period, in the beginning of 2014. Its main objectives were:
This is to be achieved by:
In terms of projects and events in 2016 and onwards, following the proposals received from MEPs and Committees, STOA is currently running projects on precision agriculture, e-democracy, waste management, new technologies and the social economy, technological support for people with disabilities, and additive bio-manufacturing. STOA will soon be launching projects on topics such as cyber-security, energy resilience, technologies for humanitarian situations, technologies for regional development, Horizon 2020, search engines, and transport infrastructure.


Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA)
European Parliament
Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS)
Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value
Rue Wiertz 60
1047 Brussels
Phone +32 2 284 1629

Fon +32 2 284 4545
Fax 32 2 284 4984

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