Carmen Vela suggests that the 22.5% cut to the already limited Spanish science budget is an opportunity for improvement (Nature 486, 7; 2012). But her optimism is unrealistic.
Spain already has substantially fewer researchers per capita than other members of the European Union such as France or Germany. Entire grant programmes have disappeared and important research institutes have laid off many highly qualified scientists. Even the Ramón y Cajal programme for young researchers has failed to fulfil its contractual obligations, forcing an end to the careers of bright young scientists.
This all comes at a time when research and development offers Spain the only certain route of recovery from economic collapse.