French researchers: more protests ahead?

The French government has unveiled its legislative plans
to reform French research – a response to the extraordinary
year (2004) of demonstration and mobilisation of the country’s
scientific community.

After a year long mobilisation of French researchers,
the government unveiled, on 14 January 2005, a   draft proposition for the new law on country’s science and research. The document foresees a long-term national
science employment plan (until 2010), the creation of a
national research agency and promotion of increased synergies
between national ‘poles of competitiveness’ and ‘poles of
research and higher education’.

Many researchers were highly critical of the
government plans when they were made public. The
government seems not to have taken into account the  scientific community’s 24 concrete proposals on the matter,
even though the vice-minister for research, Francois D’Aubert,
had promised that it would use these proposals as the
basis for the new legislation. The 24 proposals are the
result of thorough consultations within the French scientific
community for reforming the country’s science
environment. They concern issues such as level
of funding, reform of research institutions, increasing
the number of research posts, poor working
conditions and employment of young researchers. 

As regards research funding, French President Jacques
Chirac said, on 4 January 2005, that one billion extra euros would
be allocated to research in 2005. The increase in research
investment will be continued to the tune of
an extra six billion euros in three years, representing
an increase of around 10 per cent a year. This is part of
France’s efforts towards reaching the European goal of
increasing investment in research and development activities to 3%
of GDP by 2010. 

The final proposition for the reform is to be presented to
the French National Assembly in spring 2005. 

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