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Surprise Proposal

French researchers, including Nobel Prize and Fields Medal winners, are criticizing a government plan to cut €256 million in research funding, ScienceInsider writes.

In the newspaper Le Monde, a group of researchers said the plan would harm French research. The heads of the scientific councils for five national organizations, including the National Center for Scientific Research and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, also expressed their displeasure with the plan, ScienceInsider writes. The plan, which was largely unexpected, was submitted to both houses of Parliament through an emergency procedure that allows agencies to alter their budgets during the fiscal year.

The government, though, says the move is largely for bookkeeping purposes and wouldn't affect research activity. According to ScienceInsider, the cuts would be to the Interministerial Commission for Research and Higher Education, which includes 10 funding programs and most of France's publicly funded research. The French research minister has said that the change would adjust the working capital and cash flow of the national science organizations.

"Their spending, the execution of their budgets, and the working conditions of researchers will not be affected," she says.

But as ScienceInsider notes, researchers aren't convinced, and researchers' unions derided the plan as "conjuring tricks."