Researchers in France are refusing to take €7.7 billion worth of government funding because the money is being focused only on certain areas of science, reports ScienceInsider's Elisabeth Pain. "Such concentration of science funding apparently offends the researchers' sense of égalité," Pain says, adding that the researchers are actually suing the government to cancel the funding. The €7.7 billion program — called the Excellence Initiatives or IdEx — is part of a larger €21.9 billion initiative started by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 to boost research and education. IdEx aims to concentrate on between five and 10 areas of education and research, Pain says. But France's national researcher unions are unhappy with the program as they contend that IdEx "threatens core principles — equality, democracy, and a collegial administration — dear to research and higher education in the nation," Pain adds.
Proponents of the program, however, say that the funds are being awarded based on merit, not politics, and that no scientist should have a problem with that. The government hasn't yet responded to the legal action brought by the unions, Pain adds.