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Bucharest
December 7, 2021
EDITORIAL

Scientific research accuses the government

It already became a tradition for Romanian scientists to win, each year, a top place at the International Inventions Salon of Geneva, due to the value and originality of their scientific creations. The recent event of this kind was clearly in favour of Romanians: they obtained the largest number of gold medals and thus occupied the first place in a national classification most countries aspire to. The fact attests to a truth unanimously known and recognised, but insufficiently exploited in the process of modernising the Romanian economy. Indeed, the Romanian scientific research has exponents of international value, but it is not used to the adequate extent in its country of origin. How can this fundamental contradiction be explained?
The explanation is relatively simple, but painful for the Romanian public opinion. The Romanian governments of the last two decades were prisoner of the present, without an effort to forecast the future and anticipate strategic objectives.

As scientific research represents precisely the domain of reference for a long-term national strategy, it was the first to be not only ignored, but plainly undermined by rulers. All the governments of the last 18 years were indebted to the scientific research sector, first in terms of financing. This financial involution led to a situation in which the support granted from the state budget to Romanian science is equivalent to approximately USD 1 per capita, at a moment when other countries, even less developed than ours, spend each year on research USD 40 per capita. And in other countries, which consider scientific research as the main driver of their multilateral development, investment in research amounts to several hundred USD per capita.
The behaviour of Romanian governments is even more illogical when looking at the ratio between the budget of research and the Gross Domestic Product. As meager as a country’s budget may be, the financing granted to various sectors must be balanced. This rule does not apply in our country. A country that pursues a sustained rate of development usually allots 4-5 pc of the GDP to scientific research. In Romania, this figure is about 0.3-0.5 pc, if it is not even lower. An older legal initiative, which aimed at setting a mandatory bottom line for the financing granted to scientific research, was rejected precisely from fear that authorities will be unable to observe it. Such financial setbacks, amplified also by the fraudulent privatisation of Romanian research institutes, have generated an entire chain of contradictions.
As a result, more than once, Romanian inventions are put to good use abroad, rather than at home, because many industrial companies active in Romania are controlled by foreign investors who prefer importing foreign patents, to the detriment of domestic ones. This is the source of a paradox: some Romanian inventions, taken and used in other countries, are later reimported to Romania as foreign patents, although their content belongs to Romanian inventors. Of course, among the Romanian officials with ranks of deputy ministers there also are personalities who care for the domestic scientific research. To this line of “good intentions” belongs the recent financial emphasis laid on applicative scientific research. Apparently this is what stimulated many of the successes scored at the recent International Inventions Salon of Geneva. But the emphasis, in itself, has only relative finality. Success cannot be made permanent in absence of an organic correlation between applicative and fundamental scientific research. Ignoring the organic correlation between fundamental and applicative research, with an emphasis on the latter to the detriment of the former leads to the depletion of applicative inventions and of their use in space and time.
Such unilateralising prejudice led to a continuous decline in the number of Romanian researchers because of minimisation of jobs in terms of numbers and budget and, by reverse, of the frequent emigration mainly of young scientists. Countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Austria a. s. o. receive well these Romanian emigrants, due to their unanimously recognised scientific value and also to the fact that their wages are inferior to those paid to local scientists, at least at the beginning. This increases the losses suffered by Romania because these scientists were educated, from primary school until doctoral thesis, with money provided by the Romanian state. With some western countries contenting themselves to develop their national economy with the contribution of our specialists who emigrated there, the same countries oppose Romania’s accession to Schengen, perfidiously invoking the “danger of Romanian immigrants.” The free movement of EU members is demoted from fundamental right to petty discriminatory interest of post-colonial nature.
This double measure applied in the EU to the detriment of our country, with ample help from irresponsible Romanian politicians, diminishes Romania’s capacity of competitiveness. Recent sociological studies indicate that countries like Romania should have, for at least one decade, annual economic growth rates at least 3-4 percent points above those of the countries that adopted the EUR as national currency. Only thus will Romania succeed integrating itself to the group of countries that adopted the EUR currency. In order to meet this competition target, Romanian scientific research should have a decisive role which, in turn, depends on the quality of the training and education provided to the young generations. This is how an organic link between education system and scientific research capacity cannot be ignored anymore especially today, when the profit source of the social action evolves from the sphere of acquiring physical assets to that of producing knowledge (intellectual capital).
Thus, it is obvious that the development gaps between countries will widen or, on the contrary, will narrow in relation to the investment made in education and, respectively, in scientific research by one country or another. Thus, the globalisation foreseen at global scale will be able to have the attributes of a stimulating process, of a creative growth for each partner.

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