October 9, 2014 report
European scientists protest austerity measures and offer dire warnings of impact
Amaya Moro-Martin, an astrophysicist with the Space Telescope Science Institute in the U.S. (and member of the governing board of Euroscience and one of the writers of the open letter) has published a World View Column in the journal Nature, supporting the scientists in Europe and calling out those European officials who have been pushing for austerity measures in the research community for their lack of support for continued research. She also offers some stark examples, noting that public research funding in Italy has dropped to zero in Italy and is just half of what it once was in Greece. In Spain, researchers who retire are not being replaced. She suggests policy makers "have completely lost touch with the reality of research." Not only is research suffering, she points out, but so is opportunity—without a place to work, European scientists will be forced to migrate to other countries or simply find another career field, which of course, would represent a severe brain drain. She and the other scientists also point out that funneling general research funds into applied research, which officials have suggested, won't work either as it ignores how the science process works. Without, theoretical research, they note, applied research would very soon run out of steam.
The main point Moro-Martin and the scientists in Europe are trying to make is that if research stops, so too will innovation, which in the end is what drives economies forward. Without it, countries and perhaps the EU as a whole will find stagnation, rather than growth.
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