Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions


The way ahead

On October 24 2011, the Bureau of the Flemish parliament decided to cease the activities of IST by December 31 2012. The decision on the demise of IST was prepared by a political working group, which had been installed in November 2010 by the Bureau of the Flemish parliament in order to have a political evaluation of 3 out of 4 »paraparliamentary« institutes (the Flemish Peace Institute, the Children´s Rights Commissariat and IST). In other words, this working group discussed on what could be the future of these institutes within the context of parliament. Representatives from all democratic political parties present in the Flemish parliament took part in this working group. In May 2011, the representative from the green party (Groen) decided to leave the discussions after a conflict on the objectives of this working group. The representative argued that the working group had too many prejudices and jumped too fast to closure conclusions for the different organisations.

In brief, the decision differentiates between TA advice function and TA research function of IST:

Parliament´s decision leaves an opportunity for the Flemish government to take up the TA research and/or TA functions of IST.

Parliament´s decision in October 2011 to close IST at the end of 2012 emphasized a period of significant uncertainty concerning the future of policy oriented technology assessment in Flanders and threatened to create an institutional vacuum for decision-supporting and participatory TA in Flanders. In the months following this decision, two organisations were identified by IST, the Flemish Parliament and the Flemish government which could potentially integrate the TA research function:

VRWI is the independent Flemish strategic advisory council that can act proactively or on request of the government and parliament for the policy areas science and innovation. VITO is an independent and customer-oriented research organisation that provides innovative technological solutions and scientifically based advice. Hence, while the first is much more policy oriented with links to government and parliament, the latter is much more research oriented with links to academia, industry and government.

Several choices had to be made by the key players, i.e. the Flemish parliament and the Flemish government:

In July 2012, the Flemish government then took the decision to relocate the TA research activities to the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO). This involves the transfer of a significant part of IST´s budget from parliament to the government and the opportunity for the current TA practitioners at IST to start working at VITO.

For sure, parliament´s decision to close IST has highlighted the need to reflect on the de- and re-institutionalisation process of policy oriented TA activities in Flanders. For months it was unsure whether such kind of activities would disappear or re-emerge in a different institutional context. The government´s decision to integrate TA activities of IST in VITO offers a unique opportunity to tackle limitations of the (parliamentary) TA model that has been used in Flanders of the past 10 years. It is to be expected that new ways of linking and embedding TA expertise with other innovation stakeholders and discourses will be developed over the coming months and years. Expertise that has been built up by IST is useful in this matter but will also to be matched with the ever evolving science and innovation landscape. This includes:


Chapter The way ahead - all countries

Country Report Flanders



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