Last week the Scientists Dating Forum (SciDF) held a debate on the future of the scientific sector in case of independence in Catalonia.
Speakers were Josep M. Vilalta, expert in university policies and R&D management, Pere Puigdomènech, research professor at CRAG-CSIC, Lluís Rovira, director of I-CERCA, and Enric Banda, senior advisor at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). At the beginning of the event, a 10-min video by Mike Galsworthy (UK), founder of Scientists for EU, was shown. He presented the EU as a key element.
Rovira noted that with less than 2 % of the fiscal deficit the current Spanish investment in science in Catalonia would be covered and Catalonia could use taxes to cover for other missing founding too. He also said that Spain has great potential but bad management.
The speakers believed that both Spanish and Catalan administrations should learn from north-European administrations. Vilalta and Puigdomènech considered the Catalan structures, research system and policies more efficient than the Spanish ones. Banda added that Catalonia has had ‘science-friendly’ governments but wondered if that would continue in the future.
The option of becoming an EU associated country if a Catalan Republic couldn’t be a member state didn’t seem impossible to the speakers. The words transition and instability were repeated many times throughout the event. Banda stated that negotiations with Spain and the EU would make the transition longer. On the other hand, he believed Catalonia would recover with time. Vilalta noted that both sides share responsibility for instability, but reminded that Catalonia has repeatedly offered talks.
Rovira and Banda believe that both Spain and Catalonia have an interest in keeping good relationships and pact on their shared elements (BSC, Alba synchrotron, CSIC centres). However, collaboration with Spain from outside the EU would translate into costly international fees.
Rovira argued that Catalonia already has the state structures necessary to manage research. Puigdomènech pointed out that the seizure of the bank assets of Catalan universities and research centres to prevent supports to the referendum of October 1st was still on a month later. LERU considers this measure and the use of article 155 obstructions to research.
In the final thoughts, the speakers asked for a greater involvement of scientists and the people in politics to draw attention to science and education. Finally, they repeated that the transition could be long and it would have a cost.
Read the detailed story [written by yours truly] on SciDF’s blog.