The next summit of the EU heads of states on 22-23 November 2012 will be a decisive step in determining the EU research budget for the next seven years. The conditions are not favorable: the financial crisis has put severe constraints on the national budgets and several countries, in particular the "net-payers", are demanding cuts on the total EU budget. Research and innovation will compete with other policy priorities.
The European Parliament proposes a growth strategy of 100 Billion Euro for Horizon 2020, the EU research funding programme for 2014-2020. This is a very timely response to confronting the economic and societal challenges that Europe is facing.
In contrast, the proposal of the European Commission, amounting to 80 Billion Euro, is generally considered as the minimum needed to stay on track and generate impact in Europe. 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.
Against the backdrop of economic hardship and constraints on national budgets, we are worried that the final result of the negotiations may be less than 80 Billion Euro. That would be the wrong response to the financial crisis. Cuts in the research budget endanger the science base and would set Europe back considerably.
To protect research funding – including the European Research Council (ERC) – from cuts, the scientific community must stand up to make its case.
A Petition for the attention of the EU Heads of State or Government:
A top priority for Europe: secure the EU research and innovation budget!
We, the researchers in Europe, 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.