13 February 2017 News

European science organisations express concern over Trump

Open Letter on recent developments in science in the US. Image: EuroScience
Open Letter on recent developments in science in the US. Image: EuroScience

Prompted by the recent events in the US regarding an apparent shut-down of public communication by American agencies, a large number of major European organisations in the area of science, research and innovation including those in higher education and social services have written an Open Letter to European Prime Ministers, to express their concern about the restrictions on social media use and interaction with press and lawmakers in what appears to be a President Trump-backed effort to silence dissenting views.

The letter, which was also addressed to the European Commission, the President of the European Council and Commissioner Carlos Moedas for Research and Innovation asks that the principles and values that underpin scientific progress are upheld and that European ministers work with their counterparts in the US administration to maintain a global science system.

With a list of 39 signatories that includes organisations such as ALLEA (ALL European Academies), European Physical Society, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Science Europe (Association of European Research Funding Agencies and Research Performing Organisations) to name but a few, those involved state their concerns about the following developments: "

  • The Executive Order discriminating against persons because of their nationality;
  • Indications that government scientists might be affected by new administration policies limiting their communication with the press, policymakers or society at large, and that government scientists would require permission from superiors to publish;
  • The unwarranted credibility to views not based on facts and sound scientific processes and evidence in areas such as climate science or the safety of vaccines.”

The letter goes on to say that all of these above points are “at odds with the principles of transparency, open communication, mobility of scholars and scientists, which are vital to scientific progress and to the benefit our societies, economies and cultures derive from it. Restrictions on research, scientists and research centres in inconvenient areas have no place in science.”

In a world that now appears to be facing unprecedented challenges, the European organisations stipulate that where “solid science and research resulting from an open scientific process in which scientists, researchers, students and innovators can freely exchange approaches and results, and can move from country to country to study and work where their contributions are most valuable” is the way forward. Or to put in other words, is the way it was done before and the way it has worked successfully for many, many a year previously.

To see the letter, click here

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