Efforts to stem the flow of young researchers from Europe to the US and to attract back some who are already there will be hampered unless European Union member states increase contributions to the European budget, commission president Romano Prodi has warned.
He said that unless more money was provided for the overall European budget, the EU would not have enough financial resources for scientific research.
Speaking at the University of Milan, Professor Prodi criticised the UK, France and Germany, which want to keep contributions to the EU to below 1 per cent of gross national product. He said the aim should be to reach the Agenda 2000 ceiling of 1.24 per cent, established in 1999.
He said: "The EU budget must concentrate on research and development.
Europe must lead the way and set the example. It is no good grumbling that the best young researchers emigrate to America because there is insufficient funding of research.
"America's strength undoubtedly lies in its economic system, but also depends on the fact that it can count on a flow of researchers from all over the world. Last year, 50,000 young Europeans went to the US. We must get them back, but this requires resources. There is an old Neapolitan proverb, 'If your bum is too low, you can't expect to be a ballet dancer.'" Six member states set a limit of 1 per cent of GNP. "They should tell us where we should start making cuts in spending," Professor Prodi said.
"Europe finds itself in the middle of a sandwich between China and the US.
Either we increase investment in human resources towards the level of the US, or we are doomed to disappear."