Brussels, 20 Nov 2003
French Minister for Research and New Technologies, Claudie Haigneré, has admitted that 2003 has been a difficult year for French researchers. She claimed, however, that things are set to change with the establishment of new research foundations.
Speaking to Le Monde newspaper, Ms Haigneré said that the budgetary cuts which have affected the public research sector in 2003 have been a catalyst for action.
'Researchers mobilised themselves and I mobilised myself with them, I mobilised the government [...] With success. Funding for public research establishments has stabilised. At the same time, indicative funding from the ministry is making good headway. These two sets of funds are at the disposal of the organisations: this money, it's theirs.'
The 150 million euro that the government gained following the privatisation of public research organisations will be used to encourage private investment. This will be done partly through creating new foundations that will build a synergy between public and private funding. Such foundations, as Ms Haigneré underlined, are relatively rare in France compared with in Anglo Saxon countries. Some, such as the Pasteur Institute and the Curie Institute, do however exist.
One possible scenario would be to provide one of these institutes with public funding for a project to be carried out in association with the pharmaceutical industry, said Ms Haigneré.
The government is currently in a period of reflection on the subject, and is expected to produce a communication at the beginning of 2004.
Strengthening France's scientific potential is essential for integration in the European Research Area (ERA), said Ms Haigneré. Discussions have already begun on the next phase of EU research, the Seventh Framework Programme, and Ms Haigneré has already told her counterparts what she believes one of Europe's priorities should be: 'In the name of France, I have proposed that more attention is given to basic research in European policy.'