STOA is an official organ of the European Parliament, responsible for technology assessment and is active since 1987. Its task is to carry out expert, independent assessments of the impact of new technologies and identify long-term, strategic policy options useful to the Parliament's committees in their policy-making role. STOA's work is carried out in partnership with external experts. These can be research institutes, universities, laboratories, consultancies or individual researchers contracted to help prepare specific projects. STOA increasingly focuses upon round-table expert discussions, conferences and workshops with associated or consequent studies. Members of Parliament (MEPs) and invited experts from EU institutions, international institutions, universities, specialist institutes, academies and other sources of expertise worldwide can jointly participate in the analysis of current issues at these events.
The European Parliament defines its position on these issues through reports prepared by its Committees. If Committees decide that it would be helpful to their policy making role to seek out expert, independent assessments of the various scientific or technological options in the policy sectors concerned, they have STOA at their disposal: the Parliament's own Foresight scientific unit.
The STOA Panel is politically responsible for STOA's work. The STOA Panel consists of 25 Members of the European Parliament, namely the Vice-President of the Parliament responsible for STOA, six members of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE); three members from each of these Committees: Environment, Public Health and Food safety (ENVI), Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), Transport and Tourism (TRAN), Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) and one member from each of these Committees: Civili Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs (LIBE), Legal Affairs (JURI) and Culture and Education (CULT). The STOA Bureau runs the activities of STOA and prepares the Panel meetings. The STOA Bureau is elected by the STOA Panel. Currently, the chairman is Eva Kaili of Greece. The two Vice-Chairmen are Paul RÜBIG of Austria and Ev?en TO?ENOVSKÝ of the Czech Republic. The fourth member of the STOA Bureau is the Vice-President of the European Parliament responsible for STOA, Ewa KOPACZ. Former STOA Chairmen were Paul Rübig,Philippe Busquin, Rolf Linkohr,Alain Pompidou and Antonios Trakatellis.
The Panel is also overseeing the work of the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH), a platform aiming to create a community of scientists, politicians and journalists in order to ensure that scientific insights are made available to policy-makers, media and the wider public. The ESMH uses media monitoring and media intelligence tools, and works with science writers, to regularly update its website with a press review and articles on science and technology topics that attract media attention and are important in the European context. It also off ers training and networking opportunities for journalists and other communication practitioners on current technological developments, both as subjects of their reporting and as means of facilitating their work.
Based upon the needs expressed by the different parliamentary committees, STOA provides the parliamentary bodies with independent, high-quality and impartial scientific information and studies. This helps them to assess the impact of the introduction or promotion of new technologies, and identify from a technological point of view, the best possible options for action. Plenty of studies are available so far.
To raise public awareness of and interest in science and technology issues, STOA hosts an Annual Lecture. The event features eminent scientists - often Nobel Prize laureates - speaking about subjects placed high on the political agenda, such as the information society, oil-free future, sustainability, advances in medical research, as well as major discoveries in fundamental science. The event is open to the public.  Recent Annual Lectures have dealt with 'Quantum technologies, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity' (2018), 'Media in the age of artificial intelligence' (2017), 'Towards a space-enabled future for Europe' (2016), 'A discovery tour in the world of quantum optics' (2015) and 'Towards understanding the brain: Explained by a Nobel Prize winner' (2014).
STOA organises once a year an MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, bringing together MEPs and active scientists, shadowing each other for a couple of days to promote better mutual understanding and lasting links in the service of sound policy-making informed by scientific investigation.
STOA is member of the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA) network.