Brussels, 12 Jul 2005
The 'Initiative for Science in Europe' (ISE), which represents over 50 European scientific organisations in their support for the European Research Council (ERC) initiative, has called on the Council, Commission and Parliament to see to it that the ERC clears its last remaining hurdles.
With the Competitiveness Council having discussed the ERC during its informal meeting in Cardiff on 11 July, notably the recommendations of the governing body identification committee, the appeal by the ISE says that Council 'has the historic opportunity and obligation to create an ERC that is fully independent and that has a budget commensurate with its promise for Europe's economic and social future.'
The statement begins: 'What has been collectively achieved over the past three years by a coalition of many organizations of scientists in Europe, research councils and politicians is impressive and commendable. [...] The time has now come for the European Competitiveness Council, the European Parliament, and the European Commission to see to it that the ERC clears the last remaining hurdles and receives a strong budget commitment and a statute guaranteeing its independence.'
The ISE argues that the ERC will set new standards in basic research, and will therefore inspire national research councils to work with each other and the ERC to create the best conditions for science in Europe. Moreover, it creates a strong incentive for universities and research organisations to establish stimulating working environments for the best and brightest scientists, the statement adds.
'To achieve this, the ERC has to dispose of a budget that is commensurate with the socio-economic expectations. It should quickly become of the order of the budget of the larger national research councils, i.e. between 1.5 and 2 billion euro per year, otherwise its impact would not be felt,' the ISE argues.
Finally, the association of research organisations warns Member States that they cannot be 'penny-wise and pound-foolish' by curtailing national research budgets as the ERC's rises. 'We must all work together. Reducing budgets or placing inappropriate restrictions on the scope of national councils is definitely not the way forward.
To read the full text of the ISE appeal, please consult the following web address:
http:///www.esf.org/ medias/section_5/208/ AppealFinalJune05.pdf