Scientists call for more EU funding for research projects 

With the European elections approaching, scientists across the European Union are uniting for the first time to advocate for increased science funding from their candidates.

They argue that the EU’s current research funding levels place it at a disadvantage compared to South Korea, the United States, and Japan. 

“It is essential to preserve the collaborative, open, and international nature of scientific work,” stated the 27 EU science academies in a statement presented last week in Brussels, Belgium.

Currently, the EU is below the spending target of 3% of GDP on research, achieving only 2.27%. Significant disparities exist among Member States, ranging from Belgium at 3.43% to six countries spending less than 1%, with Romania at the lowest, allocating just 0.47%. 

The EU also lags behind other countries in research spending, with South Korea at 4.93%, the United States at 3.46%, Japan at 3.34%, and China at 2.41%.

Patrizio Bianchi, a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei pointed out that, “Allocating at least 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) to research and education signifies that we cannot limit ourselves to reacting to emergencies, but must work together to build a strong Europe, necessary in a truly uncertain world.”

In 2021, the EU invested 331 billion euros in research and development, marking a 6.9% increase from the previous year and a 45% rise over the past decade compared to 2011. 

The scientific community feels overlooked in the European election campaign, highlighted by the fact that only two European parties advocate for increasing the GDP allocation to research and development. 

The European People’s Party is pushing for a combined investment of 4% of GDP from both the EU and Member States. Meanwhile, The European Left proposes reserving 7% of the EU’s GDP for education, research, and innovation.

While several electoral manifestos mention the role of science, they primarily focus on its connection to the energy transition, industrial and digital transformation, or support for women in scientific sectors. The community also calls on Member States and EU institutions to “make systematic and informed use of scientific knowledge in policy-making.”

Additionally, they demand that European politicians “respect and protect the principle of academic freedom, the autonomy of their institutions, and the open international exchange of people and knowledge, guaranteeing at all times safe and stable working conditions for scientists and students.”

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