Science and Law
30th November 2016

Findings From The Bias and Conflict of Interest WORKSHOP

The event raised many relevant issues related to the latest thinking on how conflicts of interest, whether they are financial, professional, ideological or come from other personal reward factors, actually influence decision-making and the associated provision of advice.

Findings From The Bias and Conflict of Interest WORKSHOP

Recently, the workshop on Bias and Conflict of Interest that we discussed in a previous blog post was held in Luxembourg.

The event raised many relevant issues related to the latest thinking on how conflicts of interest, whether they are financial, professional, ideological or come from other personal reward factors, actually influence decision-making and the associated provision of advice.

The workshop was organized by The Huggard Consulting Group, and brought together an expert panel to examine the issue of conflict of interests, and their related biases, in a holistic manner. The event brought together, under The Chatham House Rule, legal, behavioural, policy, ideological, scientific, and journalistic perspectives.

Overall, the panel members considered the nature of bias and its complex causes. They examined the context in which scientific advice is provided to the European Union’s institutions and discussed the extent to which current
demands for both excellence and independence from financial conflicts of interest are in tension and increasingly
prevent policy-makers and regulators from getting the best advice. Finally, panelists identified recommendations,
based on the latest understanding of the nature of bias and how best to manage it, which could contribute to the
development of excellent and impartial processes for the provision of scientific advice.

The following are the key findings:

  • Potential conflict of interests are numerous, ranging from financial through ideological to academic
  • The bias that results from COI is part of the human condition and cannot be eliminated
  • Bias needs to be recognised and managed via well-designed processes
  • Trying to address bias by simply excluding certain persons from the process does not work. It is counterproductive to the goal of providing top quality advice to the regulatory process

The panel consisted of:

  • Aindrias Ó Caoimh: Former judge of the European Court of Justice, who chaired the workshop

 

  • Dr. Shaul Shalvi: Psychology Department, University of Amsterdam, Fellow, the Tinbergen Institute

 

  • Gareth Harding: Adjunct Professor of Journalism and Managing Director of Clear Europe

 

  • Prof. Lucas Bergkamp: Professor of Environmental Law and Partner at Hunton and Williams

 

  • Simon Bryceson MBE: Senior political advisor and NGO strategist

 

  • Prof. Helmut Greim: Former Scientific Committee Chairman/Member

 

To read the complete workshop summary, including a great thought piece and the workshop agenda, click below to download your free copy.

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