EU Research PolicyBrussels, 3 July 2017 – Civil society groups call for the next EU Research policy to shift its focus from jobs, growth and competitiveness to delivering global public goods for its citizens.

“With a needs-driven research agenda, the EU could concretely deliver impact for its citizens, address today’s societal and environmental challenges and contribute to a sustainable future for Europe. It could pave the way for the transition to a low carbon economy, sustainable food and farming systems and the development of new affordable health technologies,” says Fanny Voitzwinkler, Head of the EU office of Global Health Advocates.

Research that will make Europe and the world an environmentally sustainable, healthy and peaceful place to live must now be prioritised over research that delivers profit and economic return. The belief that boosting industry’s competitiveness will create jobs and ‘trickle down’ to the benefit of all people is misleading.

“Substantial portions of EU Research funds have been turned into subsidies for large corporations at a time when essential public risk assessment and research institutions are facing budget cuts. This is not acceptable: industry subsidisation is not what a public research policy should be about,” says Martin Pigeon, Research and Campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory.

Private profitability is not a sufficient measure of public benefits – a position also defended by several renowned economists and confirmed by the widening levels of inequalities within our societies.

“At a time when the EU needs to reconnect with citizens, this next research programme should ensure full public return on public investments. There is need for real democratic and participatory decision-making to enable greater accountability over the use of public funds and ensure they have social and environmental impact. Public funds should not be used for military spending,” says Leida Rijnhout, Resources Justice and Sustainability Programme Coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe.

Proposals for defence to become a much more prominent EU research area post 2020 represents a fundamental shift of the EU from a civilian peace-oriented project to a military-led one, with significant implications for the founding principles set out in the EU treaties.

“The EU is a peace project. There can be no place for military research. The EU should invest in research projects which contribute to the peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts rather than subsidise research for arms production,” warns Laëtitia Sédou, European Programme Officer at the European Network Against Arms Trade.

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