Small change

September 5, 2003

Those who plea for a European Research Council ("No red tape, no strings for ERC", THES, August 22) seem to avoid answering some obvious questions.

If the council is to be 100 per cent funded by the European Union, does it mean that the beneficiaries will be confined to EU members or will it encompass all scientists in Europe?

The EU already provides vast sums for the European Framework Programmes. If the scientists do not like the way this money is distributed, why not demand changes rather than asking for new money? Surely it is naive to ask that any ERC not "be tainted or burdened by the need to respond to political expediency".

The experience of the UK and other democracies is that public money is always subject to political pressure.

Peter Campbell
University College London

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