UK Science funding and the EU: some thoughts on Paul Nurse’s article

Paul Nurse talking in the observer on “The benefits to UK research, from finance to international collaboration, make a strong case for continued EU membership”

“Given the increasing importance of science for many aspects of our lives, what will the impact be on UK science if we are in or out of Europe?

click here to read the rest of the article

I have followed with great interest the comments section at the bottom of the blog. Most of the comments come from different people who refer to a single website, a website for a referendum ( Most of the comments are from people that want the UK out of the EU.

At the same, an interesting point was raised by the first commenter, a point that is close to my heart:

There was only one comment that provided some data

British annual budget:                                                                             £676,600,000,000

British annual contribution to the EU:                                                     £11,732,802,927

British annual science budget (this is the best figure I could find):             £5,500,000,000

EU annual contribution to British science:                                                £740,000,000

British budget as a percentage of total spending: 0.8%

So, extrapolating that spending into the amount of money we’d get back if we withdrew from the EU, 0.8% of £11,732,802,927 is £93,862,423

Sir Paul Nurse is entirely correct. British science is nearly 8 times better off with the EU, than without.

… and that’s just financially.

As I said on twitter, if the UK is indeed getting prepared for a referendum – given how little UK citizens know about the contributions of the EU to their life and their country – data should be gathered and presented so that people would be able to vote based on evidence. I know this would be hard so at least in the case of science, organisations such as CaSE and people working on campaigns such as ScienceIsVitalshould start gathering data on what is the EU’s contribution to British Science and how would an exit affect British science, before it is too late. It would be interesting to find out if the data above are correct! (of course if such data exists today please give me the reference since I am really interested – I am really interested to have the best evidence to base my argument or to change it if the data says so). In addition, this is one issue in which the recommendations developed in the Geek Manifesto could really show if they can in reality shine or not.


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