“It is necessary to react to stop the decline of French research”

Tribune. Everyone agrees that for a nation like ours, research is a priority, a source of development. However, it must be acknowledged that France is steadily declining in both fundamental research and final research in the international hierarchy in many disciplines. This decline has worsened over the past fifteen years, partly due to a lack of adequate state support, despite the propaganda effect, but also because of unfair choices in the organization of research.

The health crisis triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has exposed weaknesses in health research and innovation in France. Pasteur was left behind in the race for vaccine development when RNA vaccines were showing their effectiveness after fifteen years of research.

In order to overcome the difficulties of French research and prevent its collapse, the following seven actions are urgently needed:

– Bringing research funding in France to the level of the larger countries that choose science. Funding for research and development in France is only 2.21% of GDP (with a total of 50.6 billion euros), below Germany (3.04%) and the United States (2.79%). Between 2011 and 2018, debt to the health sector in France alone decreased by 28%, compared with 11% in Germany and 16% in Great Britain. The recent vote on research programming legislation is the first, somewhat slow step towards a research budget of 3% of GDP.

Read our survey: Articles reserved for our customers Reasons for the decline in research in France

– Increasing the importance of science to the political class. At the highest level, government and senior civil service, almost the entire political class is constituted by a single school, the National School of Administration, where the teaching of science and technology is practically non-existent. Too often, people with scientific backgrounds are taken to so-called “technical” positions. In the present government, the hierarchy is assigned to the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation 14. keeps onI The protocol ranks out of 16 in order, which says a lot about a lack of interest in science.

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Rethink the governance of major research organizations and universities. In the CNRS, two drifts have emerged: a sharp decrease in investment and operating credit (about 85 percent of the state’s endowment is consumed by wage bills) and low visibility of the precision and natural sciences.

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