Scientists from different European countries describe in this letter that, despite marked heterogeneity in the situation of scientific research in their respective countries, there are strong similarities in the destructive policies being followed. This critical analysis, highlighted in Nature and simultaneously published in a number of newspapers across Europe, is a wake-up call to policy makers to correct their course, and to researchers and citizens to defend the essential role of science in society.
The national policymakers of an increasing number of Member States, along with European leaders, have completely lost touch with the reality of research.
They have chosen to ignore the crucial contribution of a strong research sector to the economy, particularly needed in the countries more severely hit by the economic crisis.
They have chosen to ignore that research does not follow political cycles; that long-term, sustainable R&D investment is critical because science is a long-distance race.
They have chosen to ignore that public investment in R&D is an attractor of private investment; that in an “innovation State” like the United States over half of its economic growth has come from innovation with roots in basic research funded by the federal government.
They have chosen to ignore that time and resources are required to train researchers.
They have chosen to ignore that applied research is no more than the application of basic research and is not limited to research with short-term market impact, as some policy makers seem to believe.
They have chosen to ignore how the scientific process works; that research requires experimentation and that not all experiments will be successful; that "excellence" is the tip of an iceberg that floats only because of the body of work beneath
They have chosen to ignore the critical synergy between research and education.
And foremost, they have chosen to ignore that research does not only need to serve the economy but also increases knowledge and social welfare, including of those with no resources to pay the bill.
They have chosen to ignore, but we are determined to remind them because their ignorance can cost us the future.
Amaya Moro-Martín, Astrophysicist; Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore (USA); EuroScience, Strasbourg; spokesperson of Investigación Digna (for Spain).
Gilles Mirambeau, HIV virologist; Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris VI (France); IDIBAPS, Barcelona (Spain); EuroScience Strasbourg.
Rosario Mauritti, Sociologist; ISCTE, CIES-IUL, Lisbon (Portugal).
Sebastian Raupach, Physicist; initiator of “Perspektive statt Befristung” (Germany).
Jennifer Rohn, Cell biologist; Division of Medicine, University College London, London (UK); Chair of Science is Vital.
Francesco Sylos Labini, Physicist; Enrico Fermi Center, Institute for Complex Systems (ISC-CNR), Rome (Italy); editor of Roars.it.
Varvara Trachana, Cell biologist; Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, University of Thessaly, Larissa (Greece).
Alain Trautmann, Cancer immunologist; CNRS, Institut Cochin, Paris (France); former spokesman of “Sauvons la Recherche”.
Patrick Lemaire, Embryologist; CNRS, Centre de Recherche de Biochimie Macromoléculaire, Universités of Montpellier; initiator and spokesman of “Sciences en Marche” (France).
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the signatories are not necessarily those of their employers.