Brussels, 12 October 2005
The EU invests about a third less in research than the US, and the EU/US innovation gap has not narrowed in recent years. Meanwhile, emerging countries like China and India are fast becoming world-class centres of research and innovation. To address this challenge, the Commission has tabled an integrated innovation/research action plan, which calls for a major upgrade of the conditions for research and innovation in Europe. It launches ambitious initiatives to promote innovation and research, such as redeployment of state aid, improved efficiency of intellectual property protection, mobilisation of additional funds for research, creation of innovation poles, and improving university-industry partnerships. For the first time, the plan offers an integrated approach to EU research and innovation policies, and is particularly focused on improving the conditions for private sector investment in R&D and innovation. The Action Plan is a further step in the Commission’s delivery of the Lisbon Partnership for Growth and Jobs. For more information and examples see MEMO/05/366.
Vice-President Günter Verheugen responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “Innovation and research are crucial if the EU is to return to sustainable growth. This plan addresses the weaknesses the EU has in this field. But the best strategy is not worth much, if Member States do not chip in the money to realise it. Every cent which goes into innovation and research is a cent invested in jobs, growth and hence our future.”
Commissioner Janez Potočnik, responsible for science and research added: “We are still far away from the target of 3% of GDP invested in research by 2010, and Europe’s investment is stagnating. Investing in knowledge is the best way for Europe to be competitive on the global stage and maintain its quality of life. Our proposals will help to get European back on the right track.”
More research is a key factor for the creation of new jobs in Europe. To turn new ideas into new products and services, innovative spirit matters. The innovation gap between the EU und the US has not narrowed down in recent years. And the catch-up process in most of the EU countries which lag behind is much too slow.
To address this on an EU level, the Commission has tabled a new Action Plan which centres around four strands, comprising 19 different actions:
1. Research and innovation at the heart of EU policies
2. Research and innovation at the heart of EU funding
3. Research and innovation at the heart of business
4. Improved research and innovation policies
Research and innovation have been confirmed as key challenges in the new Lisbon Partnership for Growth and Jobs. The 2002 Barcelona European Council set the goal of raising overall research investment in the EU from 1.9% of GDP to around 3% by 2010. Nearly all Member States have set targets, which – if met – would bring research investment in the EU to 2.6% by 2010. But instead of rising, the overall level of EU research is currently more or less stagnant.
World-wide competition to attract research and innovation investment is growing. In addition to existing attractive locations such as the US and Japan, new competitors have emerged, such as China, India and Brazil. Research investment in China is growing by 20% a year. The scale of competition is such that no Member State can succeed in isolation. There must be co-ordination between Member State, regional and European levels.
European action must support and complement the efforts of national authorities and the private sector. Under the Lisbon Partnership for Growth and Jobs it is crucial that Member States give high priority to research and innovation in their National Reform Programmes.
More info: see Memo/5/366 and