[Ndr  Nei diversi paesi del sud-Europa – Spagna, Portogallo e Grecia – i sistemi universitari hanno subìto tagli consistenti per effetto delle misure di austerità. In Italia i tagli erano già stati effettuati ma la situazione si è ora aggravata. Intere generazioni di giovani scienziati dell’Europa meridionale rischiano di non avere nessuna possibilità di continuare a fare ricerca mettendo in serio pericolo la sostenibilità dei sistemi di ricerca dei loro paesi. E anche la Francia sta iniziando a seguire una traiettoria analoga. Questo articolo è stato pubblicato dal sito web francese  Urgence pour l’emploi scientifique  che ha lanciato questa petizione per la science e la ricerca in Francia.] 

France is not the only European country where public research and higher education are badly treated by their respective governments.

In Spain, CSIC, the equivalent of CNRS, had opened ~200 researcher positions in 2008. The number fell to 5 in 2013. This is the best way to sacrifice a whole generation of researchers, to discourage Spanish students to turn to research jobs, and … to waste all the public money spent for the higher education of these young researchers that are left unemployed.

This triggered a strong reaction last year, in particular that of Amaya Moro-Martin (picture), a very talented astrophysician who, after years spent in the USA, decided to come back to Spain. She then found that the doors of stable positions were closing in front of her and of all her colleagues. She decided to go back to the States, and now has an excellent job there. Before leaving, she made a public scandal, in front of numerous televisions. She publicly gave back to public authorities the huge file of documents that she had gathered to get a position in Spain, but in vain. To this file, she added her Spanish passport and that of her daughter. The English translation of the wonderful open letter that she sent to the Prime Minister on the 20th  august 2013 is here.

Let’s just quote one of the last paragraph : “Finally, in exchange for all these documents I’m giving you back, I make just one request: please give me back my dignity as a researcher. At the same time, if it is not too inconvenient, please give that dignity back to everyone in the research community in Spain, and please do not forget those in the Humanities“. If you want to learn more, look and listen to Amaya Moro-Martin (interview in Spanish)

Since then, there is a whole civic movement in Spain that is decided to fight austerity. One of its expression is the movement Podemos (We can), which has succeeded in having 5 deputees elected at the end of last May, at the European Parliament. Amongst them, a professor of political sciences (Pablo Iglesias), a physicist form CSIC  (Pablo Echenique-Robba — picture), both of them 35 years old, and a professor of 31 years (Tania Gonzalez), with an insecure job position.

In Italy too, the situation is very bad, but scientists have not stopped fighting. They are organized in a group with a blog, ROARS (Return On Academic ReSearch). This is a major website for the analysis of science policy in Italy and in Europe. It has a series of articles in English. It receives ~ 10000 visitors every day. It could play an important role for the constitution of a network of european scientists willing to fight austerity measures. Here is an interview (in English) of Francesco Sylos Labini , a physicist from Rome and Spokesman of ROARS. (Interview in English here).

And here is Varvara Trachana, from Greece  (interview in English). Varvara Trachana is the spokesperson of the initiative of non-appointed faculty members, i.e., of Greek scientists that have been hired 2 to even 4 years ago in university posts around the country and still waiting to be placed. This story is told here, in different languages. This austerity policy is killing Greek Science, as Varvara explained in Nature one year ago. For more information, you can visit the website of Euroscientist

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