The EU research budget – a major source of support for medical science – is under serious threat and could be about to fall victim to a much wider political spat over public spending.
It’s an almighty row. The European Commission and the European Parliament would like the EU’s main research funding programme (to be known as ‘Horizon 2020’) to have a budget or around €80 billion over six years. National governments want to slash this in half to just €40 billion. The European Research Council (ERC) is also targeted by some EU leaders.
All of this takes place at a time when widespread austerity means national research budgets are shrinking too. For medical researchers, EU funds are often their best hope of securing funding for ambitious projects designed to push the boundaries of medical knowledge.
But scientists are not about to take this lying down. A group of Nobel prize winners have written an open letter calling for the research budget to be protected and a new petition – ‘No Research Cuts’ – has been launched by the Initiative for Science in Europe.
We’ve been discussing the future of medical research in Europe and whether the EU wants to be a research hub. The outcome of this debate – which is due to come to a head at a crunch November EU Summit – could provide the answer!