Government's budget boost fails to win over angry French scientists

October 1, 2004

François d'Aubert, the French Research Minister, has announced an extra €1 billion (£683 million) for research in 2005, in line with his Government's commitment to raise research spending by €3 billion over three years.

The budget boost did not, however, satisfy researchers' representatives, who dismissed the money as window dressing.

Just over a third of the increase will go to next year's budget for civil research and development, which will total €9. billion, 3.8 per cent higher than in 2004.

The promised injection follows this year's revolt by researchers, when laboratory directors resigned their administrative duties. It forced the Government to restore frozen funding and tenured posts that had been axed, and President Jacques Chirac promised to make the sector a priority. A debate on research is due to culminate in proposals for a new framework law to be announced this month.

Scientists were unmoved by the budget. Jacques Fossey, general secretary of the SNCS-FSU researchers' union, said: "The scientific community is disappointed - no new research posts for the big organisations or for higher education, and the extra billion euros is window dressing. The Government has not given itself the resources to achieve the objectives fixed by the European Union."

Arguing that the Government was still not addressing the conclusions of the national debate despite setting up a new €350 million National Agency for Research, he said that the union would call on its members to "remobilise".

The ANR, which will replace ministry-run operations, will identify priority research projects and streamline funding.

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