[letter sent by email on 19 July 2021]
Dear Presidents von der Leyen, Michel, and Sassoli, Dear Commissioner Gabriel, Dear Co-Chairs Verhofstadt, Zacarias and Suica,
With this letter, we want to express the disappointment of the research communities concerning the exclusion of “Research and Innovation” among the leading topics of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Arguably, R&I is implicitly present in most of the nine chosen themes and can be included in the “other” category, but this is insufficient to open the discussion on how R&I will contribute to our future. We ask you to add this topic as such to the programme. This omission is in stark contrast with the declarations about the fundamental importance of Research and Innovation for Europe we have been hearing and reading for the last years.
On paper, it seems that we all agree that the only way to meet the societal challenges of the future is to foster investment in R&I, attract brilliant citizens into research careers, and increase the trust of citizens in science and technology. The Conference on the Future of Europe is probably the best venue to rally all parties — policy makers, citizens, businesses — around the R&I priority. Its absence is worrisome and could show that it has low priority on the EU agenda.
We represent hundreds of thousands of researchers in Europe. Not only do they dedicate their life to advance knowledge in Europe and make it a competitive knowledge-based economy, but they are also citizens who feel that the value they add to European society is given for granted.
If they were given the opportunity, European researchers would love to engage with citizens and policy makers across Europe to show how research works and why it is important for the challenges ahead, as it has clearly been demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We think that it is very important to have this conversation with citizens and policy makers as soon as possible. Instead, we witness a drift in citizens’ trust on science and technology and reckless decisions taken by some policy makers who do not consider valid the use of evidence informed policies.
Professor Martin Andler
President of the Initiative for Science in Europe
ISE represents major European Learned Societies and Research Organisations in Europe operating within different disciplines and across sectors. Active in the policy debate at the European level, ISE has been instrumental in promoting disruptive excellence-based funding programmes for scientific research such as the ERC.