started this petition to
SSH community members
In November 2014 the European Parliament appointed the new European Commission on the basis of an «Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change”. The very title of this Agenda reveals the true challenges of the EU.
It is therefore surprising that the new European Framework Programme for Research for 2014-2020, Horizon 2020, has very little to propose in terms of “Fairness” and “Democratic Change”, or of a new approach to “Jobs and Growth” in these times of crisis. The research programme for Social Sciences and the Humanities (SSH) has disappeared and its budget been dramatically reduced compared to the previous European Framework Programme. There is no longer even a specific Directorate in charge of SSH research at the European Commission.
Instead the European Commission has replaced the European research programme for SSH with a policy to integrate SSH with other sciences, in an interdisciplinary approach to current societal challenges. The intention is commendable and much welcome but the actual implementation of this policy by the Commission has created a lot of concern among SSH communities throughout Europe, because it limits the role of SSH to an add-on element in research efforts otherwise led by “science and technology”.
Ironically the end result of the Commission's approach is that SSH has disappeared from the European research landscape as an essential intellectual contribution to understanding and solving the very objectives set by the Commission itself, i.e. Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change. This surprising policy in SSH research is particularly worrying because the European research programmes effectively establish the trends in the EU's member states: why should a country fund research in SSH at national level if the message from Brussels is that SSH is unimportant? In several European countries, such as the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Poland, for instance, the budgets for SSH research have already been severely cut.
Unfortunately, such very restrictive policies serve anti-intellectual trends in society and actually prevent our democracies from addressing the present and future in a timely, effective manner.
Therefore, the undersigned and all committed citizens urge the European Parliament, the Council and European Commission to:
- Fund research in Social Sciences and the Humanities on “Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change” at adequate levels in the current Societal Challenge “Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies” of Horizon2020 (i.e. at least at the same percentage level as under the previous Framework Programme);
- Develop an interdisciplinary approach which gives Social Sciences and the Humanities an equal role in defining research topics in selected areas where this kind of approach is most needed;
- Re-establish a dedicated Directorate for research regarding “Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change” in DG RTD at the European Commission, which will propose cutting-edge European research in Social Sciences and the Humanities and support national programmes in these crucial fields.