Since yesterday (22 November), the European Union holds a very important meeting: EU heads of states decide upon member states budgets. Naturally, EU budget for research is discussed during this meeting, and its amount for the next seven years is determined (re HORIZON 2020, the follow-up of FP7). Researchers have mobilized to have their voices heard as the European Commission proposes the minimal amount of 80 billion euros for HORIZON 2020 budget, opposing the 100 billion euros suggested by the European Parliament. As the initiative No Cuts on Research highlights it, “for the European Research Council (ERC) that means annual increases of about 6% which is just enough to allow the ERC to consolidate its funding activity and its mission to support European leadership in world class research. It will not be sufficient, though, to launch any new activities.” Fears persist, however, that these 80 billion euros melt down to much less.
We* are convinced that
- Europe’s future depends on making optimal use of its scientific talent for the benefit of science and society;
- creative environments and research infrastructures are needed in which talent can flourish and innovations emerge;
- reliable financial support must be provided for long-term, often risky, fundamental research. Only then will the grand challenges be addressed in a sustainable way.
Therefore, we strongly support the letter signed by Nobel Prize and Fields Medal winners and urge you to act:
- cuts in the EU budget for research, innovation and education are counter-productive as they will aggravate the problems Europe faces instead of finding solutions;
- the European Research Council, ERC, is an undeniable success story for Europe. The ERC has demonstrated its ability to find, fund and empower the best researchers and has changed the future outlook of the younger generation. It needs to be strengthened to achieve more scientific-technological breakthroughs leading to future innovation.
- We urge you to provide a clear signal that investment in research, innovation and education is a top political priority, especially in times of crisis. Europe has been the cradle of modern science and the role accorded to science will shape Europe’s future.
* The original statement was: “we, the researchers in Europe”. However, it is not only the research community who is concerned about the current developments. Cuts in research affect the society as a whole. Without modification of the content of the petition text, we therefore enlarged the scope and we welcome the support of all concerned citizens.