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Spanish government decries amendment to research bill

Image: La Moncloa - Gobierno de España [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Amendment seeks to boost research posts through temporary contracts linked to European funding

A draft bill to amend Spain’s laws around research has been approved by the Spanish senate, but the country’s science minister has objected to an amendment regarding researcher contracts.

The bill, which was approved by ministers in February and by the senate on 20 July, but will now be debated further, seeks to provide greater working rights, resources and stability for scientists in Spain.

It also “guarantees” growth in public funding for R&D, with the aim of reaching 1.25 per cent of GDP by 2030, for a 3 per cent total investment together with industry.

Minister for science and innovation, Diana Morant (pictured), described the reform as a great improvement to the existing system, but said a proposed change to laws on staff contracts was an “error”.

The proposal opposed by Morant would allow temporary research contracts linked to competitive European funding grants.

Proponents hope it could provide better opportunities for early career researchers through new postdoctoral career channels, but Morant warned it could result in staff in the same laboratories being employed under two different types of contract, depending on the origin of the funding.

She asked the supporting parties to reflect on whether to approve the amendment in congress.

“We are faced with two different models: the temporary contracts of the past, defended by the [People’s Party], versus the stable, indefinite contracts that bring us in line with Europe, defended by the Spanish government,” she said.

“We will have [some] researchers hired on stable, indefinite contracts, and others with precarious, temporary contracts from the past. Our scientists do not deserve it.”

Correction 21/7 – This article has been amended to use the translation “indefinite” instead of “permanent”.