27 Jan 28 Jan
15:00 - 12:15

Transparency and Participation in the Face of Scientific Uncertainty (online)

The EU Treaties contain a clear call for an open, transparent and regular dialogue between EU institutions and bodies, and representative associations and civil society. Although openness and its corollaries of transparency and participation are foundational values of the EU, theoretical and practical challenges still persist and hamper the effective fulfilment of their potential.

The role of participation and transparency is particularly thorny in the face of the so-called “wicked problems”, such as climate change or risk regulation, characterised by incomplete or contradictory knowledge and an inherent interconnectedness with other problems. In these cases, transparency and participation certainly increase the legitimacy and acceptability of decision-making since they allow to include a wider variety of values and perspectives, and favour compliance and implementation of the decisions collectively discussed. However, civil society is not immune from the influence of post-factual narratives and from the increasing contestation of expertise as an impartial source of knowledge, which participatory mechanisms can further amplify. Especially complex decisions based on a certain amount of scientific uncertainty, such as the authorisations of vaccines or of pesticides, have often been the arena for controversies and contestation of EU decision-making.

This conference will address the role of transparency and participation of civil society in situations characterised by wicked problems of risk regulation as a way to strengthen the effectiveness of an open EU decision-making.

Programme on 27 January

  Times are GMT (London time)

Opening of the conference by Kathryn Wright (York University) and Mariolina Eliantonio (Maastricht University)


Panel I - Participation in Policy Making: Preparatory Phase

  • Chair: Mariolina Eliantonio (Maastricht University)
  • The dialogue with experts on new chemical safety methodologies by Aleksandra Cavoski (Birmingham Law School)
  • Public Participation in the Greening of the Farm-to-Fork policy: the Case of Pesticides by Annalisa Volpato and Astrid Offermans (Maastricht University)

  • The Participation of Civil Society in EU Environmental Lawmaking Processes: Shedding Light on the European Commission’s Public Consultations by Odile Ammann and Audrey Boussat (University of Lausanne)

  • Discussion
    Nikos Archontas (Secretariat-General, European Commission)

17.00h End of first day


Programme on 28 January

  Times are GMT (London time)

Keynote speech by Emily O'Reilly, the European Ombudsman


Panel II - Transparency and Participation in Policy Making: Negotiation and Adoption

  • Chair: Kathryn Wright (York University)
  • Soft Law Behind the Scenes: Transparency, Participation, and the EU Soft Law Making Process by Danai Petropoulou Ionescu & Mariolina Eliantonio (Maastricht University)
  • Transparency in Trilogues by Päivi Leeno-Sandberg (University of Helsinki)

  • Discussion
    Tanja Ehnert (legal officer, European Ombudsman)

10.15 Coffee Break

Panel III - Transparency and Participation in the Implementation and Evaluation Phase

  • Chair: Annalisa Volpato (Maastricht University)

  • Sectoralised transparency in EU risk regulation – the visibility of science in the EU agencies by Marta Morvillo (NYU), Alie de Boer and Sabrina Röttger-Wirtz (Maastricht University)

  • Public Participation and Medicines Regulation: The EMA's Public Forum on Quinolone Antibiotics by Matthew Wood (University of Sheffield)

  • The challenges of citizen engagement in conducting and disseminating policy evaluation in the EU: Transparency, Participation, Communication, Knowledge Management" by Paul Stephenson (Maastricht University)

  • Discussion
    Nathalie Bere (European Medicines Agency)

12.15 Closing of the conference

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