Science cannot wait
The executive council of the Aragonès government has approved the law of science, which will be taken to Parliament to be processed urgently. It is a text that was left pending in the previous legislature. The choice of this law as the first to be promoted by the new government is not an aseptic gesture: it is a declaration of intent. There is a broad consensus that the Next Generation funds simply reiterate that the way out of the pandemic crisis must be done by promoting economic projects with technological added value; in other words, companies and products that take advantage of applied scientific research and benefit from it. Science is knowledge and, properly transferred to society, it is also progress and wealth. Catalonia has a scientific tradition and has, thanks to the drive of the last two decades set in motion by Andreu Mas-Colell, a solid and competitive reality that now needs to be given a new boost. The task set in motion by Mas-Colell had continuity with the tripartite governments, and until today, but with economic hardship after the 2008 crisis. Now it is again a matter of joining political and academic wills to take a leap forward in the two pillars of any good research policy: the funding of projects and the establishment and consolidation of infrastructures.
Regarding the first point, the new coalition government has already committed in its government pact to achieve a funding of 2.12% of GDP in research in four years. And the law, in particular, proposes to increase investment in research from 1.5% to 2% of GDP in R+D+I. In addition, Gemma Geis, the Catalan Minister for Research and Universities, has set a target for her department to reach 5% of the Generalitat's budget. All this should not remain mere declarations of intent. With regard to infrastructures, much has already been done and what is needed, above all, is to give solidity to the wide range of institutions so that they can strengthen their teams, retaining and attracting talent. On this point, autonomy and agility in recruitment, patronage and public support are crucial.
In this sense, the law that has been put on the table is, on the whole, a good text, sufficiently worked on and agreed with the sectors involved. Therefore, it would be good if the chamber of the Parc de la Ciutadella would take it forward and do it quickly. There is no time to lose: in this field, everyone is getting up to speed and, therefore, opportunities cannot be missed. European funds are one of these opportunities and this law must allow us to make better use of them. It would also be good if, following the spirit of scientific cooperation that has taken place during the pandemic to obtain the vaccines, the Parliament were to put aside the usual divisions and squabbles and pass the law with broad support. Because, indeed, there are national issues that call for this responsibility and generosity: science and research are undoubtedly one of them. Education and culture should also be one. In fact, they are issues that go hand in hand, because scientific vocations are born at school and because we should all be clear once and for all that science is culture and economic and social progress.