Thursday, 30 June 2011

She Would Say That, Wouldn't She?

Over in Brussels, in an item that will shock no-one, the EC's research commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, is proposing that the research budget be increased for Horizon 2020 (nee FP8). She suggested that it be increased from the €50bn for the current Framework Programme to over €80bn, a rise of some 46%.

To misquote Mandy Rice Davies, well, she would say that, wouldn't she? It might have been more newsworthy if she'd thrown up her hands and said, 'guys, I've been thinking. Perhaps we should slash the research budget, and scrap the post of research commissioner. I mean, who needs it?'

More deliciously, she claims that the proposed increase would be 'better value' for the taxpayer. Which is reassuring: everyone's a winner. The budget will now be considered by the European Parliament and Council, which, as you know, are famous for quick, decisive responses.

I sound cynical, but it would be great if the 46% increase is approved. In a time of recession ploughing money into research and development is one of the safest ways out of it. However, as a news item, 'research commissioner suggests more money for research' ranks alongside 'dog bites man' or 'small earthquake: no-one hurt' as an exciting headline.

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