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Gold digging for research

Par Bertrand Monthubert, le 8 février 2004

Où il est dit que le Chancelier Schröder suggère que l’Allemagne vende une partie de ses réserves d’or pour éviter de faire des économies sur la recherche !

Maybe Germany can fund science with its gold reserves, Chancellor Schröder suggests | By Jane Burgermeister

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has floated the idea of using some of the country’s gold reserves to finance research and development.

In an interview in the Die Zeit weekly, Schröder said that selling some of the central bank’s gold reserves would allow ?research and development to be partially taken out of the [government’s] savings program.?

The chancellor said that one of the biggest challenges facing the government was finding enough money to fund research and development at a time of drastic cuts in health and the welfare services. His comments come after the European Union urged Germany to make more efforts to bring its budget deficit below the Eurozone’s 3% limit.

Schröder said that funds released by the sale of gold reserves should be used to set up a special foundation to finance research and development as well as education.

 ?A knowledge-based society cannot afford not to use all its education potential, ? he said. His plea is likely to be backed by the head of Germany’s Central Bank, Ernst Welteke.

Welteke has indicated that he is prepared to drop his long-standing resistance to selling some of the bank’s gold reserves to help fund government programs.

The German Central Bank, which has 3400 tons of gold reserves, is currently holding negotiations with other national banks to sell 600 tons of gold by 2009. Welteke has said that he would like the billions of euros raised from the sale to be used to set up a foundation to finance research and development.

In the interview in Die Zeit, Schröder also called for a transformation in Germany’s culture. He criticized values and attitudes that he said had contributed to a widespread aversion to risk taking.

 ?Everyone agrees that biotechnology is one of the biggest growing fields, and yet risks are in the forefront of any discussion. We hear very little about the opportunities, ? he said.

Asked where the government would find the money for research if the central bank refused to sell some of its gold reserves, Schröder said that he would make sure that the government found enough cash.

Noting that the western part of Germany transferred ?83 billion a year to the eastern part, the former East German Democratic Republic, he said that the government would redistribute some of the country’s immense resources to pay for more research, if necessary.

Schröder’s comments come as the government is undertaking a radical overhaul of the country’s university system and research institutions amid growing fears that Germany could lose its world-class reputation for research and its economic and technological edge.

Central to the so-called ?innovation offensive ? is a much greater emphasis on competition among universities and research organizations. Links for this article  ?Gold for research, ? Die Zeit, 2004. http://zeus.zeit.de/text/2004/06/sc...

N. Stafford, ?Creating a German ’elite’, ? The Scientist, January 28, 2004. http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/2...