Giorgio Parisi, an eminent Italian physicist, has started a petition to put pressure on the Italian government to support Italian research adequately. Together with 68 colleagues, he has also written a letter published in Nature, which I copy-paste below from the site of the petition.
Readers of this blog might consider signing the petition.
Addendum: In a comment on this post, Giorgio Parisi invites everyone to sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/salviamo-la-ricerca-italiana. Please do. Researchers working at Italian universities and research centres could do with your support.
Letter to Nature by Parisi et al.
We call for the European Union to push governments into keeping their
research funding above subsistence level. This will ensure that
scientists from across Europe can compete for Horizon 2020 research
funding, not just those from the United Kingdom, Germany and
Scandinavia. Europe's research money is divided between the European Commission
and national governments. The commission funds large, transnational
collaborative networks in mostly applied areas of research, and the
governments support small-scale, bottom-up science and their own
strategic research programmes.
Some member states are not keeping their part of the bargain. Italy,
for example, seriously neglects its research base. The Italian National
Research Council has not overseen basic research for decades, being
itself starved of resources. University funding has dwindled to a bare
minimum. The ministerial initiative known as PRIN (Research Projects of
National Interest) has been defunct since 2012, apart from a few limited
programmes for young researchers.
This year's PRIN allocation of a 92-million (US$100-million) funding
call to cover all research areas is too little, too late. Compare this
with the annual French National Research Agency’s allocation of up to 1
billion, or with Italy's 900-million annual contribution to the EU
Seventh Framework Programme that ran in 2007–13. That resulted in a net
annual loss of 300 million for Italian science.
To prevent distorted development in research among EU countries,
national policies must be coherent and guarantee a balanced use of