Last Monday, February 11th, a formal meeting took place at the highest level between representatives of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, and the Severo Ochoa – María de Maeztu alliance (SOMMa). The meeting, produced in the framework of the Minister’s visit to the ALBA synchrotron, certified the first formal meeting between the alliance and the Minister, Pedro Duque.
On behalf of the Ministry, together with Minister Duque, the general secretary of coordination of scientific policy, Mr. Rafael Rodrigo, and the minister’s cabinet director, Mrs. Immaculada Aguilar.
On behalf of the SOMMa alliance, its president, Luis Serrano, represented the managers of the SOMMa member centers and units, Bruna Vives, representing the European Open Science Policy Platform of the European Commission, Michela Bertero, and the Coordinator of SOMMa, Joaquim Calbó.
The meeting allowed SOMMa to formally introduce Minister Duque, as well as establish new channels of communication, providing the minister with first-hand knowledge of the alliance. The issues discussed in the meeting focused on issues in the field of science policy, with a prominent place for the recent Royal Decree-Law 3/2019, of 8 February, which establishes urgent measures in the field of science, Technology, Innovation and the University.
As regards the RD in its entirety, the alliance conveyed its clearly positive assessment, highlighting it as a step forward for science in Spain. However, some doubts were conveyed about particular aspects of its drafting that may limit the real impact of long-demanded measures. These referred to issues such as the establishment of permanent contracts charged to the project or public procurement for minor works.
Other issues dealt with were the problems associated with the application of VAT in science, the establishment of a multi-year budget for the State Research Agency, the implementation of an Open Science policy in Spain and the S Plan, as well as the future European Framework Program. Regarding this last point, SOMMa highlighted the importance of frontier research forming an integral part of future European transnational projects and that the quality of research remains the main criterion for evaluation.
After the meeting, the Ministry called on the alliance to provide complementary information to some of the issues addressed in the meeting to help assess the issues highlighted from SOMMa. Likewise, the Ministry offered the establishment of periodic meetings between the general secretary of Scientific Policy Coordination and the grouping of all the managers of the alliance, a grateful offer and valued very positively from SOMMa.
Finally, the representatives of the alliance emphatically expressed their willingness and desire to continue maintaining fluid communication and collaboration with the Ministry, in pursuit of a solid scientific policy favorable to research in Spain.