Proactive, cosmopolitan and open, the European Union is filling a leadership void on the global stage, argue James Wilsdon and Sarah de Rijcke.
Originally Published in Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01568-x
Last month, in their final session before elections, a thumping majority of members of the European Parliament approved the legislative package for the European Union’s next programme for research and innovation, Horizon Europe. Arguments will rage for another six months about the size of its budget — now pencilled in at €94 billion (US$106 billion) by the European Commission and member states. Such ritual debates are important, but they can obscure a greater achievement.
Over the past decade, there has been a palpable shift in the scale of Europe’s influence over the governance and direction of global research. And its ambition doesn’t stop there: the EU also wants to lead the world’s approach to a host of policy agendas informed by science, including climate change, chemicals regulation and data protection.
A more proactive Europe is filling a void in international scientific leadership. This has been created by the United States’ retreat from multilateralism under President Donald Trump, which affects science, as many other spheres. China is struggling to switch its emphasis from research quantity to addressing thornier issues of scientific quality, ethics and integrity. And the United Kingdom’s exit from Europe will blight its political and research systems for the next decade…