Europe’s first chief scientific adviser (CSA) is to be Anne Glover, Nature has learned. Glover is a molecular and cell biologist and is Scotland’s CSA at present.

The appointment comes more than two years after José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, pledged on 15 September 2009 to create the post. In February, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU research commissioner, blamed the financial crisis for the delay in making the appointment (see EU's overdue chief scientist to be appointed this year).

The European Commission will soon have its first chief scientific adviser. Credit: Rex Features

The details of the CSA role — including how much power and freedom the incumbent will have in providing scientific advice and influencing policy-making — are still unclear. It is also unclear which European institute the post will be situated in and whom the incumbent will report to. For example, the CSA could be part of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, which provides high-levelin-house policy advice to the Commission, or in the Commission’s research directorate. The European Commission was unable to confirm the appointment by the time Nature went to press. Glover told Nature that she could not confirm the appointment.

European science leaders have been quick to welcome the appointment. Many, including John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser for the United Kingdom, have long called for improvements to evidence-based policy-making in Europe.

Helga Nowotny, president of the European Research Council, which funds frontier research judged solely on scientific excellence, tells Nature that she is pleased that “the position has finally been filled”.

Nowotny says that Glover will bring a “fresh perspective” and become a “persuasive and credible ambassador for research and innovation”.

Paul Boyle, president of Science Europe, a Brussels-based science advocacy group, says in a statement to Nature that the group is “pleased” with appointment, adding that Glover’s experience as CSA of Scotland “makes her well-placed to fill this role”.

Marja Makarow, chief executive of the European Science Foundation, a non-governmental organization based in Strasbourg, France, that supports scientific networking and collaboration in Europe, says that she is “delighted that the new CSA is an active researcher, and a woman”.

“It is rather natural that the chosen expert comes from the United Kingdom, where the concept of a CSA has been implemented, in contrast to several other European countries,” she adds.

But one European science insider expresses concern that Glover is not well known in European science-policy circles. “She is low profile, but that might be what the commission wants,” the source says.

On 9 November, the Scottish government advertised for a replacement CSA for Glover, who is expected to leave her post on 21 December.