EU positivity is moulded from years of association born not simply of certification, but of financing. The EU is a massive donor and awarder of grants, even if it is not of course handing out its own money. But the association of grant and grantee, in fields and subjects chosen by the EU’s civil service, under systems run by its fellow travellers, encourages the recruitment, the development, and the progression of a pro-EU cadre – whether they are fully aware of it or not. This is particularly clear with respect to academics, from whom over October we can expect to hear a great deal as they are drafted in to act as commentators.
The problems arising from the EU funding academic research are several.
Firstly, the bidding system and scale of money available inevitably risks skewing academic research along the EU’s pro-integration priorities. Secondly, the selection points and networking system heavily risks openly pushing bids and bidders themselves along pro-EU lines. Thirdly, the nature of the inducements generates an elite of EU-specialists, whose starting point is one of explaining rather than challenging the process, and who are self-recruited from pro-EU academics. It also then supports the career progression of those professionals, bridging academia, thinktanks, governance, and the private sector. Finally, can only encourage a measure of professional hostility to Euroscepticism.
In other words, the mass funding scheme supports the creation of a pro-EU elite that has, to varying degrees, bought into supporting the system and professionally engaging with it – which to be fair is precisely why the funding streams were originally set up.