In the News in Brief story “German science academy stumbles at birth” (Nature 444, 14; 2006), it is reported that I wrote a “last-minute protest letter” opposing plans for the establishment of a national science academy. However, the Max Planck Society, together with all major German research organizations, supports the current plans for setting up such an academy.
The representative role of the proposed academy on an international level had been extensively discussed. It had been agreed that, for any specific case, German science should be represented by the organization with either the highest competence for the issue or the best organizational fit to the international body in question. This implies that some representational activities will stay with a funding council or a research organization.
It therefore came as a surprise to the research organizations that the states commission had been advised to constitute the academy as a body with a general power to represent German science internationally.
As a consequence, the German Research Organizations wrote a clarifying letter to the states commission, which — as president of the Max Planck Society — I signed also on behalf of the heads of Germany's research-funding agency the DFG, the Fraunhofer Society, the Leibniz Association, the Helmholtz Association of German research centres and the German Rectors' Conference.