Taking stock of the application of the precautionary principle in R&I

Specific Challenge

In 2000, the European Commission adopted a Communication on the precautionary principle[1] (PP) following several crises in the fields of health and food safety. PP was then seen as enabling rapid response in case of possible danger to human, animal or plant health or to protect the environment, especially in cases where scientific evidence was lacking. The Communication proposed common guidelines on the application of the precautionary principle. Since then, the application of PP has become controversial, with some stakeholders advocating an Innovation Principle (IP), by which potential innovation benefits should be favoured when weighed against potential risks. Yet debate and controversy related to the need to take due and proportionate precautions in research and innovation activities, and to anticipate and assess the potential environmental, health and safety impacts of policies and technologies, continue today. The challenge is to find a balanced approach that allows decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis, responding to the question "how safe is safe enough and how risky is too risky".


Consortia will take stock of the implementation of PP since 2000 in various contexts, analyse the effects of the PP and propose several scenarios for the future of the PP and IP. Consortia are expected to examine international, EU, national (and sub-national) level initiatives and policies related to due and proportionate precaution. They should examine and analyse recent and on-going controversies, understanding the competing interests and concerns of different stakeholders, and analyse whether and how their views are taken into account, for instance in the media, by pressure groups, citizens, governments, and in policy making.

Consortia should strive to develop new tools or approaches to PP or IP, in order to help policy makers and other stakeholders apply RRI principles, that is, build effective cooperation between science and society, and pair scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility. These new tools should be created in a full co-creation approach with the different actors involved.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

Consortia are expected to contribute to one or more of the MoRRI indicators[2] (in particular PE 1 to 10, E 1 to 3 and GOV1 to 3) and to the Sustainable Development Goals[3] (for instance goals 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15). Consortia are expected to evaluate their activities and provide evidence of societal, democratic, economic and scientific impacts.

Cross-cutting Priorities

Socio-economic science and humanities

[1](COM(2000) 1final)

[2]See http://www.technopolis-group.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/2171_D3.2.p… (Table 3.2).


Date de candidature
Sciences sociales : Démographie, Economie, Sciences environnementales, Science politique, Sociologie