Ministers slow research Bill

July 8, 2005

The timetable for the introduction of France's major research reform is slipping because of the appointment of new ministers for education and research, writes Jane Marshall in Paris.

The framework legislation was due to come into force on January 1 next year, but the Bill is not scheduled to go before Parliament until the end of 2006.

Gilles de Robien, who replaced Francois Fillon as Minister for Education, Higher Education and Research, and Francois Goulard, new Junior Minister, have spent the month since they took office examining the proposed legislation and meeting officials from interested bodies.

The ministers are talking to unions representing researchers and the action group Sauvons la Recherche. These groups have focused their attention on the National Research Agency, which will be responsible for selecting and financing research projects.

The ministerial changes and consequent negotiations have postponed examination of the Bill by a series of statutory bodies from June to September, after which it will progress to the Council of Ministers.

Despite the delay, both ministers said the legislation would go before Parliament for its first examination "before the end of the year".

Interviewed in Le Monde , Mr Goulard said that many measures - such as those concerning the status of researchers, the operation of new centres of research and higher education, and making the management of research organisations more flexible - did not depend on the new law but could be introduced by statutory regulation.

He also confirmed that 3,000 posts would be created, split equally between researchers in the big scientific organisations and the universities on one hand, and engineers and technical staff on the other.

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