Universities across Europe are sounding the alarm now that national governments plan to spend less money on research and innovation than was intended by the European Commission.
The haggling has started regarding the European budget for 2015: the European Commission submits a proposal, this is responded to by the member states and the European Parliament, after which the various parties get around the table for negotiations. The opening offer of the European Council, where European heads of state meet to consult with one another, shows that the national governments intend to spend less public funds on ‘growth and jobs’ than proposed by the European Commission. This budget item includes research grants and the popular Erasmus grants, but also, for example, public investments in roads and internet facilities.
The European universities warn that such spending cuts could create problems for them. EU research grants are an important source of income, and university projects that are already underway should also be taken into account. After all, someone has to foot the bill. The European Parliament has voiced similar concerns, writes Neth-ER, the Dutch research and education sector’s ‘bridgehead in Brussels’. In the worst possible scenario, students would no longer be awarded an Erasmus grant and researchers would have to say goodbye to funding.
Invest in knowledge
National governments shouldn’t merely engage in rhetoric, but invest in knowledge, writes the European University Association. If politicians really attach as much value to research and education as they say they do, they should put their money where their mouth is.
The European Parliament still needs to respond to the Commission’s budget proposal. It is expected to announce its official position in October. HOP