East vs. west fight for EU cash is brewing

In their recent paper, the European Parliament’s committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) have called for a ‘stairway to excellence’ to enable new member states to participate more in EU research funding.

At the moment, new member states tend to miss out on funding from programmes like Framework 7 and the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT). Also many EU countries, particularly the newer member states, are not on target to raise their research and innovation investment to 3% of GDP by 2020. Only Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and Sweden currently invest more than 2% and these are all long standing members of the EU.

The ITRE want to see EU funds for research and innovation redistributed across member states rather than the majority of the funds continuing to go to countries that already have world-class science. They want to see more money directed to up-and-coming countries to develop their research infrastructure.

If passed by Parliament, this proposal could spark an east verses west struggle for funding. A move towards a more equal distribution of research funding would mean less funding for the old member states in the west of Europe.

Should most of the EU’s funds for research continue to go to the countries and institutions with the best track record and ability to succeed? Or should funding be redirected towards countries that need to develop their infrastructure so they can catch up and level the playing field? What do you think?

Leila Sattary

Leila is a freelance science writer specialising in science funding and research policy. She is a former editor of EuroScientist. She writes for a variety of online and print journals including news and features for Chemistry World, her Lab Rant column for Laboratory News and many more. In her day job she works as a Project Officer at the University of Oxford with particular interest in research policy, knowledge exchange and impact.
Leila Sattary

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