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The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the largest scientific institution in Spain, which is 74 years old, is about to collapse due to the cuts the government has imposed on R + D and innovation.

The President of CSIC has acknowledged that this situation is due to the chronic structural deficit that the institution has suffered since 2009, mainly due to successive reductions in transfer of funds from the Ministry and not by the overall economic situation.

The State Budget (PGE) the resources allocated to the CSIC have been progressively reduced on to put it close to the limit, with a deficit of 150 million euros, of which 50 millions could be recovered by severe austerity measures. The recent injection of 25 million contributes to alleviate the situation, but it is not more than a bandage on an open wound.

There are still 75 million euros needed to prevent the collapse of the CSIC and less than six months to the completion of the year, nevertheless no official commitment has been made by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

This means, 75 million euros to prevent the closure of the main scientific institution in Spain, with more than 100 research centers and institutes and about 12,000 working professionals.

Let’s put the 75 million in perspective and compare it with other numbers: the former government party treasure man, Luis Barcenas, now being judge for corruption and tax evasion, has allegedly made a fortune, now in Switzerland, of about 47 million euros. Political parties spent 65 million euros in the general election campaign of 2011. The fraud for irregular payments in Andalusia known as "ERE case" is estimated at 136 million euros. Bullfighting receives 500 million grant from different public institutions. Football clubs have a debt of over 600 million euros with the IRS, etc.

In times of economic crisis we must set priorities and in Spain it is clear that R & D is not one of them.

Please sign and ask the Secretary of State for R & D to do what whatever it takes to save the CSIC.

 

VERSIÓN EN CASTELLANO

Letter to
Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation Carmen Vela
Dear Ms. Vela,

Last week has been of great shock for those who work at CSIC (Spanish National Research Council). The fact that Spain’s most important scientific institution is on the verge of collapse has been known for months. However, the recent appearance of its president, Emilio Lora-Tamayo on June 27th, and the latter presidential resolution have provoked not only a fuss, but almost an earthquake.

The CSIC has spent the remnants that researchers saved in previous years to literally, –according to the resolution– "keep open and fully operative the institutes, complete the payment of salaries and maintain the infrastructure of CSIC." Even more serious, such appropriation was made without the knowledge or, obviously, the consent of researchers.

The president in its resolution recognizes that this action is due to chronic structural deficit that the institution has suffered since 2009, mainly due to successive reductions in transfer of funds from the Ministry and not by the overall economic situation of the country. In the State Budget (PGE) the resources allocated to the CSIC have been progressively reduced on to put it close to the limit, with a deficit of 150 million euros, of which 50 millions could be recovered by severe austerity measures. The recent injection of 25 million contributes to alleviate the situation, but it is not more than a bandage on an open wound. There are still 75 million euros needed to prevent the collapse of the CSIC and less than six months to the completion of the year, nevertheless no official commitment has been made by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

This means, 75 million euros to prevent the closure of the main scientific institution in Spain, with more than 100 research centers and institutes and about 12,000 working professionals. Let’s put the 75 million in perspective and compare it with other numbers: the former government party treasure man, Luis Barcenas, now being judge for corruption and tax evasion, has allegedly made a fortune, now in Switzerland, of about 47 million euros. Political parties spent 65 million euros in the general election campaign of 2011. The fraud for irregular payments in Andalusia known as "ERE case" is estimated at 136 million euros. Bullfighting receives 500 million grant from different public institutions. Football clubs have a debt of over 600 million euros with the IRS, etc. In times of economic crisis we must set priorities and in Spain it is clear that R & D is not one of them.

The lack of funding of the CSIC is not due to the low competitiveness of its professionals, but to a poor wager from the governments (of Mariano Rajoy now and José Luis R. Zapatero before) on R & D and their prioritizing other sectors. It is expected that this decline will deepen over time. In this sense, according to the new State Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation for 2013-2020, the government is committed to achieve an investment of 2% of GDP on science by 2020. However the plan does not provide for an increase in the public budget and instead of this it expects to achieve the aim through private sector investment, which is in the worst financial situation possible. In short, it is not unreasonable to assume that the government's strategy is to slim the public R & D system and that for it to stop fulfilling its social function.

Thus, the CSIC and the Spanish public science agonize, and could be in their death throes. You, as head of the Secretariat of State for R & D and innovation, have in your hands CSIC’s destiny.