24.11.16 | At the annual meeting of the Leibniz Association, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised the freedom of science, based on adequate funding. Bremen’s Science Senator Eva Quante-Brandt posited that science serves as a means to counteract the loss of reality in parts of society.

In her speech yesterday at the annual meeting of the Leibniz Association, Angela Merkel stressed the freedom of research. The chancellor pointed out the importance of the freedom of science for the future, even if at the outset, a future use is not always foreseeable. Sometimes, as in the proverb, ‘good things take time’, said Angela Merkel, mentioning the example of the binary numeral system developed by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz more than 300 years ago, which today is the basis of every computer application. Also referring to Leibniz, after whom the research organisation is named, the chancellor said that a high degree of freedom in research would allow and mandate that we use reasoning to meet the challenges of globalisation, digitalisation or climate change.

The chancellor also emphasised the social importance of science for politics, which could rely on the expertise of science. “It is good, with the Leibniz Association, to have a reliable source of information and knowledge,” said Merkel, who stressed that adequate funding of research is a basis for this, for example through the Pact for Research and Innovation.

Angela Merkel also thanked the Leibniz Association for its contribution to the success of German unity in science through the inclusion of the majority of the positively evaluated institutes of the former academies of the science of the GDR.

The Bremen Senator for Science, Health and Consumer Protection, Eva Quante-Brandt spoke prior to the chancellor. The senator stressed the importance of science to counteract the progressive loss of reality in parts of society. “Everyone has the right to own opinions, but not to own facts,” said Quante-Brandt. The Leibniz Association as a whole, but in particular the Leibniz research museums and central specialist libraries, are visible places of dialogue between science and society to mediate and communicate research results to society.

Matthias Kleiner, the president of the Leibniz Association, spoke about the integrative role of science, which co-operates internationally against the backdrop of growing populist tendencies: “There must be a strong Europe in the sciences which embodies the values of co-operation with and reliance on each other.”