Limit our intelligence and you limit our growh

EU plans to divert  money away from a European research fund would damage the UK’s position as a world leader in Science.jpginnovation and a have a significant effect on our long-term future - warns Neena Gill MEP for the West Midlands

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has outlined his plans to create an ambitious new broad investment strategy – the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI). Whilst this plan will be crucial in boosting economies across Europe it is being funded - partly - by diverting money away from the Horizon 2020 fund; an EU fund that supports ground breaking research in universities and businesses.

There has been outrage from universities across the UK, who made their way to Brussels last month to make their voices heard. Neena Gill met with representatives from Aston, Birmingham City, Coventry and Staffordshire University to understand what these cuts would mean to research departments here in the Midlands.

Today (13th May, 2015) a group of Nobel Prize Winners, led by University of Birmingham alumni, Sir Paul Nurse, met with representatives from the EU Presidency, the European Commission and European Parliament including Neena Gill. This follows a letter they have written to the Presidency – their message is simple “If we don’t get smarter we will get poorer” and cuts to these funds will limit the amount of research universities will be able to conduct.

Neena Gill, Labour MEP for the West Midlands said

I have written to the commission to voice the concerns of the university professionals I have met with, and their answer has been weak. They’re strategy relies on the multiplying effects of investing these funds – believing that they will bring around 15 times more money into the economy than we invested. I recognise the need for an ambitious solution that will help our economies grow – but if you limit our intelligence you will limit our growth – taking funds from the Horizon 2020 is simply not an option

We have some world class universities here in the Midlands and this fund gives those universities the muscle, motivation and money to stay at the forefront of innovation in Europe and across the world

Cuts to these funds means cuts to ground breaking research that will help protect our environment, develop infrastructure, cure diseases and look after our elderly – these funds help take research from the classroom and the lab to people’s homes.  They create jobs and help our economies grow.

It's a troubling time for Europe with the prospect of an EU referendum - I will do everything within my power to ensure that the UK and the West Midlands can stay competitive in a global economy.