Brussels, 10 Mar 2004
Hoping to influence the political pledges made in the run up to the Spanish general election, 11 renowned Spanish scientists have called on all political parties to sign up to a 'state pact' on science.
The pact highlights Spain's economic progress over the past 25 years, and the lack of accompanying investment in research and development (R&D). Now is the time for change, it is claimed. A focus on the provision of services, particularly in tourism and leisure, an economically competitive industrial policy and reliance on cohesion funds have got Spain where it is today, according to the text of the pact, but 'the model on which the Spanish economy is sustained is beginning to give signs of exhaustion.'
Industrial decentralisation, the increasing influence of emerging economies and a greater scientific and technological dependency on other countries are all perceived as threats by the pact's authors.
'The facts demonstrate that the countries that exert economic, political and social leadership today are those that, some time ago, decided to back innovation arising from scientific research in diverse fields. [...] These countries' leaders could see, and still understand, that to invest in science is to invest in the future.'
The pact outlines six areas for action: commitment to the development of science; institutional commitment; commitment to financing; commitment to researchers; commitment to restructuring; commitment to society.
The lack of funding means that Spain is frequently unable to participate in international projects, claims the document, and the lack of transparency regarding the allocation of funding makes it impossible to calculate exactly how much money is available for science, its authors add. Confusion is exacerbated by the inclusion of military R&D funding in the budget. This lack of transparency makes it impossible to design a plan for stable financing, states the pact.
Mariano Rajoy from the right wing Partido Popular party has already pledged to increase the annual R&D budget by ten per cent every year between 2004 to 2008 if he becomes the next prime minister. He has also promised to find an additional 9,500 scientists and to create a science council. Socialist candidate José Luis Rodrígues Zapatero has also given his backing to the pact. To read the pact in full (in Spanish), please visit: http://sebbm.bq.ub.es/soc/pacto.htm