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Nobel Prize winners fear for EU science budget

A delegation of Nobel Prize winners spoke with three top administrators of the European Union last week. They urged the politicians not to cut down on science.

Six Fields Medal winners and 44 Nobel Prize winners, including Dutch-Russian physicist Andre Geim, met three prominent Europeans: Martin Schulz, chairman of the European Parliament, Herman van Rompuy, chairman of the European Council and José Manuel Barroso, chairman of the European Commission.

They handed them the open letter that was published in October. They also pointed out that there is a petition, which has meanwhile been signed by more than 133,000 people. “Investing in knowledge is the only way to safeguard European prosperity,” the scientists write in their appeal.

They are anticipating the EU summit of government leaders on 22 and 23 November. That is when the member states will discuss the European budget for 2014 to 2020. Because of the financial crisis, it will not be an easy job: huge cutbacks must be made.

The Nobel Prize winners fear that science will also not be spared. The planned increase for the research programme ‘Horizon 2020’ to eighty billion euro may not get the go-ahead. The programme from which the Erasmus grants for students are paid, could also be affected by the cutbacks.

“Europe cannot afford to lose its best researchers,” the letter states. “If the EU budget for research and innovation is drastically reduced, we risk losing a generation of talented scientists, at the very moment when Europe needs them most.”

Of the more than ten thousand Dutch signatures on the petition, more than 2,300 come from Amsterdam and about 1,300 from Utrecht.

HOP, Petra Vissers




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