Brussels, 15 November 2012
Commission welcomes letter from 44 Nobel laureates and 130,000 citizens urging EU leaders to invest in research and innovation
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has today welcomed a delegation led by Nobel laureates Sir Tim Hunt and Professor Jules Hoffman to the European Commission. They have presented President Barroso, in addition to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, with an open letter, signed by 44 Nobel laureates and 6 Fields medallists. The letter emphasises the importance of EU funding for research and innovation, and warns against the consequences of budget cuts in these areas. The delegation also highlighted a petition in support of this cause, to date signed by more than 130 000 people from Europe and around the globe.
President Barroso said: "I very much welcome the support of 44 eminent Nobel laureates, 6 Field Medallists and an impressive number of other scientists. One euro invested in research and innovation at European level has a bigger impact than a euro spent at national level. That is why the European Commission has proposed a substantial increase in research funding for the next EU budget, through the Horizon 2020 programme. We call on EU leaders to listen to this initiative and agree an ambitious, growth-oriented future budget at the special European Council meeting of 22-23 November."
The open letter, initiated by Nobel laureates Sir Tim Hunt and Professor Nüsslein-Volhard, was published in late October in key media across Europe. The signatories underline that "it is essential that we support, and even more importantly, inspire in a pan-European way the extraordinary wealth of research and innovation potential that exists all over Europe" and warn that in case of severe cuts to "the EU research and innovation budget we risk losing a generation of talented scientists just when Europe needs them most." In this regard, the letter points in particular to the European Research Council that "has achieved global recognition in a remarkably short time."
Young researchers from various scientific fields immediately followed suit by launching a petition, coordinated by the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), making an appeal to EU leaders not to cut the research budget. Within hours, thousands of citizens signed it across all EU Member States and worldwide.
Horizon 2020 is the new EU programme for research and innovation, presented by the Commission as part of its EU budget proposal for 2014 to 2020. In order to give a boost to research and innovation as a driver of growth and jobs, the Commission has proposed an €80 billion budget, up from the €55 billion of the current programme (Framework Programme 7). As part of this proposal, the Commission wants to increase support for the European Research Council, which is mentioned explicitly in the open letter, from €7.5 billion (2007-2013) to over €13 billion (2014-2020).
For more information
Website with the petition and copies of the letter in various EU languages:
Website of Commission on the budget proposal 2014-2020:
Website on Horizon 2020:
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen (+32 2 295 30 70)
Jens Mester (+32 2 296 39 73)
Michael Jennings (+32 2 296 33 88)