The European Commission held a conference in Brussels on Monday (December 13) to discuss strategies for creating synergies among European funders of basic life sciences research. But no firm decisions were taken and the aim of encouraging national funding bodies to work together brought some tensions to the surface.

The meeting was attended by a large collection of policy makers, directors of research councils, scientists, industry representatives, and politicians. The commission says it was the first time so many stakeholders in European life sciences have come together and may become a regular event.

"This is always going to be fraught," Frank Gannon, executive director of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), told The Scientist. "One of the problems is that some of the national funding groups are being deprived of money... so it becomes very difficult for them to say, 'Yes, we'll hand over the money to central initiatives.'"...

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