On Thursday, June 5, the Max Planck Society (MPG) announced the closure of 12 research departments and one institute in order to cope with its decreased annual budget. The cuts will save the MPG €50 million ($58.8 million) annually.

The announcement vindicates concerns expressed in December 2002, when the German government decided to freeze the budgets of the public research organizations at 2002 levels. Since then, chancellor Gerhard Schröder has promised a 3% budget increase per year beginning in 2004. But in order to fund its 80 research institutes and 12,000 employees, the MPG needs an annual budget increase of at least 4%.

"The freeze really hurts," Christina Beck of the MPG told The Scientist, "because it actually means less money, not least because of increased personnel costs due to tariff rises." She added that recruiting a new research director now costs roughly 1.3 times more than in...

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