What is frequently overlooked when comparing scientists' salaries is the situation in the pre‐accession countries to the European Union (EU) that are likely to soon join the EU and its labour market. This will definitely change the comparison of average postdoctoral salaries as laid out by Jack Parker in his article. As an example, the lowest possible salary for a postdoc in the EU mentioned is €17,700. This is twice the minimum standard salary of a professor in the Czech Republic and more than three times the salary of a postdoc here, which, incidentally, is actually below the national average income. No further compensation for these researchers is available, and their whole income is subject to further taxation. Yet the wages in the Czech Republic exceed those in Slovakia by 40%, which has already caused an enormous brain drain from Slovakia to the Czech Republic. And since funds for research and universities come, in general, from governmental sources, there will be little chance for change after entering the EU.
There are two major consequences of this situation for scientists in Europe. First, in the short term, there is no danger of Western Europe's scientific potential being completely drained away to the USA, because it can always recruit scientific talent from the Central European countries. Second, unless action is taken at the European level, the education standards in Central European countries will decline swiftly in parallel with the overall competitiveness of these countries. Optimistically, one could wait for some investment in research by Western European high‐tech companies and the subsequent support of universities in these countries. However, the market has already been open for at least 10 years without any indication that this is taking place.
- Copyright © 2003 European Molecular Biology Organization
Dalibor Stys is at the Institute of Physical Biology, University of South Bohemia in Nove Hrady, Czech Republic.