European Longevity Initiative: ERC budget cut means less health for Europe

We, at the European Longevity Initiative, would like to express our opinion concerning the proposed ~10% last minute European Research Council (ERC) budget cut as it amounts to less chance for groundbreaking scientific and medical research providing health benefits for the world, Europeans included.

Fact #1:  The ERC is the first pan-European funding body for frontier research. It is part of, the first pillar, of the Horizon 2020, representing ~17% of its overall budget for 2014-20. As the recent Nature Editorial A pandemic is no time to cut the European Research Council’s funding puts its:

‘The ERC is a rare success story in multilateral research funding. About 25% of all patents filed by projects supported by Horizon 2020 have come from ERC projects, even though commercialization of research is not the agency’s main aim….
The ERC is seen as stellar by the standards of basic research agencies. According to the latest evaluation report, almost one-fifth of projects report a breakthrough and more than half lead to a major scientific advance (see go.nature.com/3iyhn9i).’

Fact #2: The European Commission proposed a budget of 14.7 billion for the period of 2021–27 in 2018.

Fact #3: The EU Summit in July proposed only €81 billion for Horizon Europe, which, according to the ERC Scientific Council would mean ‘no increase to the core research and innovation budget of the EU for the first time ever’. This budget figure indicates a €1.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) budget cut for the ERC, proposed sort of the last minute.

Fact #4: The European Parliament could still veto this proposal. (The EP wanted €120 billion for Horizon Europe.)

Problem: This proposed budget cut means potentially less health for European Citizens in the medium and long term as it provides less chance for new, innovative, clinically relevant research. For instance, it weakens the chances for bigger, successful grants addressing the root cause of age-associated diseases, biological aging, which needs multidisciplinary skills pulled from a cross-European talent pool, multilateral research founding and potentially an interdisciplinary approach. This shortsighted budget u turn is also in tension with the new slogans emerging from EU leaders to focus on public health in general.

Statement: We protest against this last minute substantial budget cut, due to internal EU political games, down-prioritising the life-line of European scientific and medical research. There’s still time to fix this. If the EU is serious about public health it should walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

European Longevity Initiative – ELI

drafted by: Attila Csordas (Cambridge, UK <- Budapest, Hungary)

Joanna Bensz (Warsaw, Poland, International Institute of Longevity)

Didier Coeurnelle (Brussels, Belgium, Heales)

Clara Fernández (Valencia, Spain)

Viktor Holy (Prague, Czech Republic, LongevityForum.eu)

Martin Lipovsek (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Morten Scheibye-Knudsen (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Felix Werth (Berlin, Germany, The Party for Health Research)

Tina Woods (London, UK, Longevity International)

Mehdi Yacoubi (Paris, France)

Introducing European Longevity Initiative in English, French and Czech

European Longevity Initiative – all-round health as a single issue, published in Longevity.Technology.

INITIATIVE EUROPÉENNE POUR LA LONGÉVITÉ – LA SANTÉ DANS SON ENSEMBLE COMME UNE QUESTION UNIQUE, published in Heales FR.

European Longevity Initiative – občanská iniciativa výhradně zaměřená na prodlužování aktivního a zdravého věku dožití, published at LongevityForum.eu.

I’d like to thank every involved in the translations: Didier Courneille, Petr Sramek & company.

The COVID-19 pandemic as the most powerful reason to choose healthy longevity politics

(Observing) History is funny, in the horror movie sense of funny. Something’s funny going on, either as an external or an internal observation, sensation or impression. This is the second sense of funny, the strange, the odd, the weird. This is not the first sense of funny, the humorous one. The second sense of funny turns full creepy at the time of a crisis. In the current world situation we know exactly what causes this funny feeling, a pandemic that endangers our lives, livelihood, values and default societal structures in yet unknowns ways besides the known ones.

History-making, or changing the course of history by humans on the other hand, is not particularly funny, but can derivatively be, in both senses, when observed from the outside. Making history is … hard, in the first place. But, it can still be simple if the historical problem’s particularity suggest a fix, the universality of which can be recognised along that particular dimension. I believe that the proper reaction to the coronavirus pandemic is conceptually simple, but practically it’s not easy. Simple, but not easy.

In brief, the Coronavirus pandemic is the single most important practical argument I’ve ever seen emerging, to develop a robust healthy longevity technology protecting people of all ages & put that into the centre of human society and politics. I’ve worked out several such arguments myself but philosophical depth pales in comparison to this single actual biological reason. In my number one professional life, as the Founder of an aging/longevity startup I now work on a combined COVID-19 and immunosenescence targeted proteomics molecular test. Connecting biological survival to healthy longevity.

Source of these 3 sections: Open Lifespan and the economy of time, part 1: introduction, literature

Aging is not an urgent health challenge according to the WHO

The Official Guardians of Public Health on Earth, The World Health Organisation has released a list of 13 urgent health challenges for the next decade and the world-wide problems brought about by biological aging did not make the list. To re-phrase: age-associated chronic diseases, today undoubtedly the biggest killers of humans in existence, were not important enough for the World Health Organisation to prioritise interventions against them. Check whatever world-wide top 10 list of mortality and morbidity, or if you are lazy, just check the top 5.

But no. As the WHO announcement says: Continue reading “Aging is not an urgent health challenge according to the WHO”

What’s next for all-European longevity politics?

The MEP elections in May, 2019, has seen the birth of cross-European healthy longevity politics, but what happened since then? My question is focusing on all-European (cross-European) representation, including the big EU political arena, not on individual countries.

Not much. Here are some factors behind this. Continue reading “What’s next for all-European longevity politics?”

Liechtenstein, microstates and the theory and practice of longevity politics

Couple months back I published a 3 part study called The missing political philosophy of microstates: longevity, between survival and luxury; conclusion and action with the following summary: Continue reading “Liechtenstein, microstates and the theory and practice of longevity politics”

Wanna fight climate change, Joseph Stiglitz? Better advance healthy longevity too, for more resources

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize winning economist goes to war in the Guardian in the piece called The climate crisis is our third world war. It needs a bold response on World Environment Day. Getting himself all worked up with military rhetoric (I just don’t think it’s needed, as most people understand by now how the planet is in danger, and further alarmism is counterproductive) he says: Continue reading “Wanna fight climate change, Joseph Stiglitz? Better advance healthy longevity too, for more resources”

The birth of cross-European healthy longevity politics: 1 in 500 voters backing it in Germany and East of England

Here’s a new starting point to think of in politics: 1 in 500 voters support healthy longevity politics or at least prioritising aging research dramatically if you consider 0.2% of all valid votes in Germany went to The Party for Health Research (71,000 votes) & 0.2% of votes (3230) in East of England Region went to this person writing this very post.

The German Party for Health Research (Partei für Gesundheitsforschung) has been founded in 2015. You can read my interview with its founder Felix Werth here. They have been working hard to raise the profile for aging research and the demand of developing effective medicines against age-associated diseases ever since. The 71,000 votes backing them in EU elections are a very significant number, but unfortunately they would have needed to reach ~200,000 votes in order to send their candidate to the European Parliament.

And there’s me who stood as the only independent MEP candidate in the East of England Region, a complete political rookie, unknown outside of the still small world-wide longevity community and proteomics bioinformatics circles. Also a continental European science immigrant in the the extremely polarised UK.What made me confident to stand for the message of advancing healthy longevity for all is not just my longevity biology background but this being combined with my philosophy background. I spent most of my free time last year to draft a book on the (largely political) philosophy of longevity. The fact that in my constituency I was able to get 0.2% of all the votes with a ~2 week, minimal budget (spent <100 GBP for 4 mini fb campaign the day before elections), grassroots campaign shows the potential.

To enable, accelerate scientific and technological innovation political innovation is needed. What you’ve seen here in the EU elections were the first steps of the political innovation around healthy longevity as a scientific, technological and societal opportunity, that is coming your way.

3230 individual votes, 0.2% of all votes in East of England Region went to healthy longevity politics

Dear 3230 individuals, I feel like I should individually reach out and thank you personally, one by one (still doable I think :). You made the actual effort to understand what am standing for and without any previous exposure to longevity politics. You voted to this particular individual talking here, serving as a medium for this message: thank you, you understood the future, that the health of everything else should be enabled by robust individual health till close to the end. I expected 0.1% and 0.2% is double of that expectation, starting literally from a political zero couple of weeks ago.

And think of the backdrop of your vote: you live in an incredibly polarised country and you have voted to a continental European science immigrant with a weird name and a strange accent. You have already passed the test of genuine openness, so congratulate yourself. And this openness is going to be the key of our future.

East of England EU Election Results 2019