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EU: EURAB calls European Researchers to Lobby for EU Research Budget

The proposed doubling of the EU's research budget by the EU Commission to €70 billion for the next Framework Program (FP7, 2007-2013) seems to be in serious danger due to the continuing debates over member countries' contributions. On May 28th, Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg and, at that time, EU president, announced that major cuts in the proposed research budget have to be expected.


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EURAB, the European Research Advisory Board, reacted promptly by sending an open letter to the European research community, asking them to lobby their governments to fund the full research budget proposed by the Commission.

 

Helga Nowotny, Head of EURAB, learned about this drastic change of policy while attending a workshop in Denmark on the European Research Council (ERC) with the EU Commissioner for Research, Janez Potocnik. The ERC would be the new council funding basic research across Europe, with funding from FP7 anticipated to be €12 billion.

 

"While discussing the next steps for an ERC," Helga Nowotny says, "I was struck by the dire prospect from the financial perspective, and especially by the drastic cuts for research as announced in the compromise proposed by the Luxembourg presidency. I therefore, on the spot, launched an appeal that we, as researchers, have an obligation to speak to our national heads of state and governments, explaining that research is an indispensible investment in the future of Europe."

 

EURAB was created, by a 2001 Commission decision, to be an independent body advising the European Commission on its RTD policy. "Of course," Ms. Nowotny further explains, "we will not make any recommendations on what political decisions should be, e.g. we cannot say that 'people' in FP7 are more important than 'infrastructures' or vice versa. But we can propose criteria that would help to improve the decisions made under conditions of a reduced budget. One recommendation - obvious for us - is not to make linear cuts. There are also good reasons to say that the new elements of FP7, such as the ERC and JETI, should be given preference. Not because they are new, but because there were very good reasons for including them in the first place."

 

Upon her return to Vienna, Helga Nowotny drafted the EURAB open letter, accompanied by a list of arguments supporting the Commission's FP7. On June 6 this was sent to more than 100 national and European research and industrial research organizations, asking them to lobby their governments to fund the full proposed research budget.

 

Then, on June 16-17, the Council of Ministers met to decide on the financial future of Europe - and reached no decision. But Ms. Nowotny sees it from a positive perspective: "In a way, to have no decision is better than to have a bad decision. What I mean is, there is still hope for a better outcome for research than the Luxembourg compromise, provided that there will be a real political discussion on setting priorities for Europe. There will be cuts for research, but there is at least the chance that they will be less drastic. This will not happen by itself, but only if the research community is ready to fight for it. Not just like any other lobby group, but because research, education, and innovation are really the basis for the Europe of the future."

For further information, please visit EURAB's website:
http://europa.eu.int:80/comm/research/eurab/index_en.html#background{/access}

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