Brussels, 22 May 2003
If the political class continues to remain indifferent and hostile to the scientific community, Italy runs the risk of being left out of European research, Lucio Bianco, President of Italy's national research council (CNR) has written in an open letter of resignation.
Mr Bianco stepped down from his position following the government's decision, earlier in the year, to place the national research council under temporary receivership and to restructure public research bodies. The reform is seen by some scientists as placing too much control of basic science in the government's hands.
Since the reform bill was proposed in January, Mr Bianco has questioned its legitimacy, claiming that under the Italian constitution, institutions operating in the field of culture have the right to implement autonomous regulations, within the limits envisaged by the laws. With the proposed reform, institutions like the CNR would turn into non-instrumental bodies, he believes.
Mr Bianco also believes that unless the proposed reforms are discussed with the scientific community, the future of Italian research could be in danger. His letter claims that the public sector's stance, coupled with a lack of private investment, would certainly hinder Italy's capacity to fully participate in European research.