EAS Special Representative to the European Union

The EAS has established a Special Representative to the EU in order to make the collective voice of European astronomy heard at the heart of the European Union. The overall objective is to make policy-makers and politicians fully aware of the importance of astronomy as a key fundamental science with, additionally, many important technological and societal spin-offs.

Professor Mike Bode formally took up the Special Representative role in May 2017 on a part-time basis under a partnership agreement. This initially runs until the end of 2018, with a six-month gap until the end of March 2018 while he undertakes a previous commitment as a Visiting Professor in Southern Africa.

Mike Bode, the European Astronomical Society's Special Representative to the European Union

On taking up his role in May 2017, Mike undertook extensive background work on the EU, European Commission and European Parliament. In order to foster closer ties with the European Physical Society, which has similar ambitions to those of the EAS, discussions were held in Brussels with the EPS Secretary General and their own representative to the EU, with follow-up co-operative actions resulting. In discussions with the EPS and others, including the Royal Astronomical Society, EuroPlaNet, the Director of the UK Research Office in Brussels and the First Secretary for Research and Regional Policy of the UK Permanent Representation to the EU, a list of prime contacts in the Commission and Parliament was compiled and introductions made.

Through this, meetings have now been held with senior officials in the European Commission including a Senior Advisor to the Commissioner in the Research, Science and Innovation Directorate and a Senior Economist/Policy Advisor in the International Cooperation and Development Directorate.

Among other actions undertaken so far, the EU "Transparency Register" process has been completed which means that the EAS is now a recognised lobbying organization of the EU and is automatically receiving alerts on consultation exercises etc. One of those that is imminent is on the draft proposals for the Framework 9 programme which is an area of particular concern for the Society and its representative. It also quickly became clear that it would be very valuable to have a short brochure to highlight the wider impact of astronomy. The process of producing such a brochure, in cooperation with other major astronomy-related organisations and projects in Europe, has been initiated and is being actively pursued by EAS Council. Readers who feel that they have relevant expertise and would like to be considered to join the Working Group on the wider impact of astronomy are encouraged to contact the EAS president Roger Davies.

On his return from his Visiting Professorship in April 2018, Mike will resume his role. Over the following months he aims to apply for accreditation with the European Parliament; follow up further contacts in the Parliament and Commission; foster even closer working relationships with the EPS, EuroPlaNet, ASTRONET and others, and give consideration to a possible half-day Special Session at the European Parliament which could, for example, centre around the launch the proposed brochure on the wider impact that our subject undoubtedly has.

Prof. Mike Bode can be contacted at michael.bode @ eas-astro.eu.