Scientists urged to fight for EU funds
SCIENCE POLICY:THE EUROPEAN Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, has issued a call to arms, encouraging scientists to join the battle and help the commission protect the €80 billion research spend proposed under the next EU science budget.
It will be under serious pressure, given demands by the Common Agricultural Policy and structural funds, she said.
“We are in the fight of our lives,” she said during an event at the Euroscience Open Forum. “Research and innovation are proven drivers for growth. My message to member states is not to cut funding for research. I believe we would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we withdraw funding.”
The European Parliament was strongly in favour of this level of spending, she said. The pressure to reduce the proposed budget would come from competing interests within the commission.
She was speaking on “policy day” at the forum, dedicated in particular to opening dialogue between scientists, policymakers and politicians. She encouraged scientists across Europe to become involved in the debate and make their views known.
She said finance ministers should be targeted, given that ministers involved in research, enterprise and innovation already understood the value of investment in research.
Earlier, Ireland’s relevant ministers took part in a discussion of Irish science policy for the international media at the forum.
The policy goal was to create an ecosystem where people could do good science, said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton.
“We believe we have, with limited resources, boxed above our weight” in improving Ireland’s research ecosystem, he said. “The next step is looking at: can we do even better?”
Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock dismissed claims that money would be diverted from research areas that did not offer a commercial return. There had to be “an alignment in terms of [research] calls in Ireland”, he added. “We have to be able to maximise outputs.”