Greece is the first country to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/EU austerity package following a disastrous financial craash. The science in Greece is being severely affected.
Greece is a country where universities and research institutes are already underfunded. Expenditure in science has dropped below 0.6% of GDP, lagging behind the 3% target set out by the Treaty of Lisbon.
Since May, when the Greek government resorted to the IMF bailout loan, the country has been in turmoil. Salaries have been cut dramatically while taxes increase in response to the IMF/EU requirements for major public spending cuts. In times like this, can adequate science spending be justified?
Greece is a country where science, technology and innovation have never been high in the agenda. Although Greek people love science, read science magazines, enjoy science documentaries and are consumers of technology products, they do not regard science as a pylon of a modern society. In times of austerity, science is a luxury.
So what does the future hold for science? At the moment the government has abruptly cut the university budget by 30%. In addition, all temporary academic staff employed on fixed-term contracts will not have their contracts extended. For the last four months, contract staff have been continuing teaching and research duties while unsure whether their contract will be extended or whether they will even receive payment for the work they already have done.
To make matters worse, there have been no calls put forward for EU funded national projects. Such calls require national contribution, however Greece is not in a position to make that expenditure. This is a major setback as EU funding supports much of the country’s scientific activity.
So, where does this leave the people working in universities and research institutes? Many researchers have already left the country. Others are looking for jobs abroad or have simply quit research altogether. They feel let down. As the new wave of financial crisis is looming over Europe, what does the future hold for science? In Greece it looks rather bleak.
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