Chair, Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA), European Parliament

Paul Ruebig, born in Upper Austria, has been a member of the European Parliament since 1996 and belongs to the European People's Party (EPP). He is the owner of an Austrian blacksmith company and has a degree in Business administration, marketing and production engineering from the University of Linz, Upper Austria. He is married and has two children.

Paul Rübig is full member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and of the Committee on Budgets. He is Vice-Chair of the Delegation for relations with the Korean Peninsula and substitute member of the Delegation for relations with Switzerland, Norway and of the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee and the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Parliamentary Committee. Furthermore, Paul Ruebig is also a substitute member in the Committee on Development.

Paul Rübig is very active in the field of the small-scale business promotion. He is president of SME Global, a working group of the International Democrat Union (IDU), whose objective it is to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and to improve their business environment. Paul Ruebig is also Chair of STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment), an official body of the European Parliament that is supported by external experts such as universities, scientists or research institutes.


17:00-18:30 5 NOVEMBER

Future-oriented science-policy interaction needed

Within the European Parliament, the Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel (STOA) is a body carrying out interdisciplinary research and providing strategic advice in the fields of science and technology options assessment and scientific foresight. STOA plays a very specific role in bringing sound scientific evidence to the European Parliament, both at the level of Members and at the level of Parliamentary Committees. Communicating science and technology issues and making them understandable to society at large is an important part of STOA’s mission.

The STOA services are integrated in the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). Together they strive to turn the science-policy interface into a future-oriented science-policy eco-system. In this eco-system, scientists and policy-makers are in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, including industry, NGOs and society as a whole. 

In a world which might have to accommodate 10 billion people by 2050, STOA focuses on five main themes:

1. Ensuring mobility for 10 billion people – how can this be achieved?

2. The resource question – how can the world supply the necessary resources in the future? With energy, water, food, precious materials?

3. Information and communication technology – what is the future for a digitalised world with all interlinked by the Internet of Things, and for social networks?

4. A perfect life – what can we do to improve people’s health?

5. Communicating science – how can STOA help to ‘join the dots’ with scientists from around the globe?

Going just one step further since 2014, STOA has taken on the challenge of helping Members and committees to take into account possible long-term unintended consequences of legislation on society. Hence, STOA’s traditional role was then strengthened through a new emphasis on the long-term future dimension of its research.

The Scientific Foresight approach includes analysing techno-scientific trends in the context of their impact. Therefore, we systematically look into possible future impacts by taking a 360° approach: the evidence is assessed in a context taking into account the most diverse range of angles, such as social, technological, economic (jobs), ecological and ethical factors.

Similarly to the approach of the new Scientific Advice Mechanism developed by the European Commission, STOA relies on a wide range of expertise, involving professionals with diverse backgrounds. 

In essence, STOA has been developing the capacity to play a well-defined role in the EU policy cycle and has invested a lot of efforts in effectively communicating the available evidence at the ‘science-policy interface’ (novel ways of communicating, ample use of the social media, video clips and live tweeting during events), to raise awareness of STOA activities among the wider public, which has responded favourably to this new way of interacting.