Nieuws - 13 april 2005

Research billions

The European Commission will create a council to distribute money among top scientific researchers in EU member states. The European Research Council will have more than ten billion euros to spend between 2007 and 2013. Scientists will evaluate each other’s proposals through an anonymous peer review process. According to the Commission it does not matter where research is carried out or who does it. Quality is the only criterion. Is this likely to lead to a situation where already strong research groups, such as Oxford and Cambridge, profit from all the extra money? ‘That could well be the case, but is that bad?’ comments Pieter Drenth chair of the European federation of academies of science ALLEA. ‘If that’s where the best research is, we should be stimulating it. That is good for Europe. There are other funds for strengthening research in poor member countries. A skewed distribution of the budget is likely to be a temporary problem: a good researcher in Estonia stands just as much chance.’/ HOP