Minister Ceysens requested the advice of the VRWB on the draft bill concerning the organisation and financing of the Flemish science and innovation policy. Especially of interest to the VRWB was Chapter III from this draft bill, which regulates the creation of the VRWB successor: the strategic advisory council for the policy areas science and innovation. The draft bill does not yet mention a name for this advisory council. The VRWB suggests naming it the "Flemish Council for Science and Innovation", or "Vlaamse Raad voor Wetenschap en Innovatie" (VRWI). This minimal name change demonstrates the continuity between the VRWB and the VRWI, but by including "Innovation" the new name covers much better what the advisory council is all about.
More substantially the VRWB notices a contradiction between this draft bill and the bill on changing the SERV-decree. The VRWB asks the Flemish Government to clear this up. Furthermore, the VRWB wishes to stress that the VRWI will have first and foremost the competence on advising on science and innovation, just like the SERV as an advisory council has as first competence the policy area of economics. The VRWB therefore cannot agree with the description in the memory of understanding of the bill on the SERV-decree, stating "Concerning the policy area 'technological innovation', there are two advisory councils: the Flemish Science Policy Council (VRWB), created by decree on December 15th 1993, and the strategic advisory council SERV."
We have to note though that four of the six members representing the SERV in the VRWB cannot support the latter statement in this advisory report, and they have formulated a minority report, which is attached to this report.
Furthermore the VRWB objects to the obligatory joint advising with other strategic advisory councils in Flanders. The VRWB repeats from its Recommendation 30bis that the advisory councils themselves need to decide when it is appropriate to publish joint advisory reports. The VRWB further notes that no other Flemish strategic advisory council is obliged to publish joint advisory reports.
In completing the implementation of the Flemish Government reform "Better Administrative Policy" ("Beter Bestuurlijk Beleid", BBB), the current draft bill reforms the agencies IWT and FWO. Concerning the IWT the VRWB advises to raise the number of representatives from the academic associations from four to five, and to raise the number of members with industrial relations (including social profit) from three to four.
Concerning the FWO, the VRWB has the fundamental concern on the added value of the proposed reform. In general, the VRWB is worried about the scientific independence of the FWO under the current draft bill, and strongly asks guarantees for the aforementioned scientific independence. For example, the VRWB stresses that the appeals procedure for applicants should be limited to administrative, procedural matters, as is the custom around Europe; no scientific arguments should be admitted in the appeal. The VRWB is furthermore concerned about the rising interference of the Flemish government in the governance of the FWO, and advises to balance this interference in order to guarantee the independence of the FWO.