Thursday, July 28, 2011

Under our noses

Unremarked in the UK MSM, not only because of its familiarity but also because the danger is not fully (or at all) realised, are recently announced EU plans for increasing the spend on "research". Thus it is left to The Irish Times to tell us that the EU plans to spend €7 billion on research in 2012, the largest single research budget in the world bar the US National Institutes for Health and NASA.

This is part of the Seventh Framework Programme running from 2007 to 2014, but it is only part of it. Most of the projects paid-for out of the fund are match-funded, with upwards of 60 percent found from other sources.

Needless to say, the Irish Times writes in glowing terms about this bonanza, extracted from increasingly unwilling taxpayers, and notes that the successor named Horizon 2020, has a proposed budget of €80 billion, the only major area for increase in the EC budget after 2014. It is clear from these announcements, says IT writer Conor O'Carroll, "that European governments see investing in research and innovation as vital to economic recovery". He then details some of the areas that will be funded.

However, what is not said is that the primary purpose of EU research funding is the promotion and development of integration – through diverse means ranging from the study of the "European dimension" of so many issues, to the insistence of cross-border research teams, thus forcing the Europeanisation of the research effort.

Alongside this, a major function of the research funding is to buy up academia, creating an "intellectual" class beholden to the EU and thus, in theory, supportive of it.

Then, unrealised by many, much of this funding is directed at specific issues with a view to developing EU policy, to the extent that the European academic community has been absorbed into an extended policy-making matrix, giving it a stake in the central government structure. The corollary of that, incidentally, is that there is no money for national policy development.

Such is the effectiveness of the EU publicity machine, however – and the gullibility of its "donors", that the research programme is seen as an unalloyed good, creating "opportunities" and all sorts of benefits for the academic community.

In fact, under our very noses, the EU is buying up academia with our money, turning it into a trans-national fifth column, in the service of European political integration. Opportunities there are, but none that are at all wholesome or welcome. We are paying for our own demise.