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Brussels, 30th of September 2009

Mastering key technologies to shape the industrial future of the EU

Key Enabling Technologies such as nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics including semiconductors, advanced materials, biotechnology and photonics are of exceptional importance for being at the forefront of managing the shift to a low carbon, knowledge-based economy. Mastering such technologies lays stable foundation for well paid jobs in the EU and allows for sustainable, broadly shared growth. They are the main drivers for innovative goods and services needed for addressing major societal challenges. Therefore the Commission proposes to develop and implement a European vision for the industrial deployment of such technologies in the EU. ( IP/09/1268 ).

Vice-President Günter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, said: “The EU needs a strong innovative drive to equip itself with the means needed to secure our future competiveness and address the major societal challenges of this century. Mastering nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics, biotechnology, new materials and photonics means being at the cutting edge – in the benefit of citizens."

Key Enabling Technologies are of systemic relevance as they enable the development of new goods and services and the restructuring of industrial processes needed to modernise EU industry and secure the research, development and innovation base in Europe. These technologies will be needed for example for new medical treatments, the development of low or zero emission cars. They are needed for converting sunlight into energy, improving the food situation or for designing and constructing modern airplanes.

The EU still faces significant obstacles in achieving the wide and timely industrial deployment of these technologies. In the past, the EU has not effectively capitalised on its own R&D results and there are shortages of the skilled and highly educated scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs capable of exploiting the multidisciplinary nature of new high technologies.

The Commission proposes to develop short and longer term competitiveness strategies for key enabling technologies.

It will set up a high-level expert group tasked with developing a shared longer term strategy and well co-ordinated concrete actions at European level, according to the specific maturity level of each technology. Based on this work, the Commission will report back to the Council by end of 2010.

The Communication forms an integral part of the European Innovation agenda.

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