President Klaus Iohannis cautioned on Monday that research in Romania is likely to regress to the level of the '90s because of the government's plans to adopt the Ordinance on R&D and Innovation, released on the website of the Ministry in charge."As the representatives of researchers and of the academic milieu have already pointed out, the draft piece of legislation contains provisions that put the quality and independence of Romanian research at jeopardy and risk blocking its Europeanization and internationalization, with a negative impact on innovation performance, on economic competitiveness and welfare. The main direct effects of the proposed ordinance are: the deskilling of research management, the reduction of transparency or even the disappearance of funding allocation on a competitive basis, as required by European and international best practice, and increased risk of politicizing research funding overall, virtually wiping away a whole process of alignment with best international practices begun in the '90s," a release of the Presidential Administration shows.
According to the cited source, under the ordinance, the Ministry - run by a political team without a proven managerial capacity - is the main coordinator of the National Plan programs.
The bodies that were previously in charge of the management of competition-based funding of research projects will be dismantled and some of their responsibilities will be transferred to research institutions that are also the beneficiaries of research grants, the release argues.
"It is totally unclear what role is left for the national R&D and innovation councils to play. The entire move to politicise research management will de facto prevent acquiring membership of European institutions that bring together independent research funding agencies, like for instance Science Europe, and will render impossible joint-call / joint-program cooperation with independent agencies for the funding of R&D and innovation from other countries," the document further states.
At the same time, the cited source points out that the ordinance only maintains the NUCLEU funding program and scraps institutional performance financing, abandoning international assessment. In the latest budget revision blueprint, the government has also substantially reduced allocations to research (10 percent of the Ministry's annual budget), at a time when the budget for research is anyway five times lower than the EU-recommended 1 percent of GDP, and "the draft ordinance dents the independence and transparency of the research activity, increasing the risk of its politicization."
According to the Presidential Administration, "a sustained effort is noticeable in recent months to uncouple research from world scientific practices." The President also emphasizes that "the Educated Romania project, that pursues an economy based on innovation and added value cannot have a future when the research sector is being constantly sabotaged for political interests."