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EUROSCIENCE POSITION ON THE FP7 BUDGET

The recent public utterances from Europe's political leaders about the budget of the European Union causes considerable concern in Europe's research community with regard to feasibility of the proposals for the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

The proposal from the European Commission for a doubling of the FP budget is fully in line with the declarations of the Lisbon and Barcelona European Councils. In fact, any reduction in the budget seriously diminishes the Union's ability to meet its own agreed targets. The recent review, led by Mr Wim Kok, highlighted the general failure of the Union and its Member States to get seriously close to the target of the EU becoming the World's leading knowledge-based economy by 2010. Euroscience, the principal grassroots research organisation in Europe has a responsibility to raise this concern and urges leaders of the EU Member States' governments to demonstrate their commitment to their own targets by ensuring that the FP7 budget is doubled. In fact, we believe that this is the minimum level for such an initiative. Without this we will not be able to keep up with our global competitors including the United States of America and the new Asian economies. Any reduction in the FP7 budget will be catastrophic to Europe in this global competition. Euroscience understands the pressures on the EU overall budget and the view of many Member States that there should be a budget cap of 1% of the EU's GDP. However, this is a large sum in which the Framework Programme only takes a small share. It is a question of priorities. Doubling the Framework Programme budget to its proposed level, not only allows the EU to move towards the Lisbon and Barcelona goals by this direct investment, but recognises the leverage effect that this investment has within the Member States themselves. Euroscience challenges the Heads of the EU governments to face the issue of prioritisation by honouring their declared Lisbon and Barcelona goals for the benefit of Europe's citizens long term economic well being. Europe cannot win markets by cheap raw materials, low salaries, low skills and low social security costs. The only option we have open to us is to develop our knowledge potential. Europe must fund the future, not bury its head in the past.