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Brussels, 4 February 2011

Statement by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn after the 4 February European Council

"I am delighted with today's European Council conclusions on innovation. Heads of State and Government have today, based on the Commission's proposals, taken a big step towards the Innovation Union that all of us in Europe need.

EU leaders have recognised today that the Innovation Union is above all an economic strategy and that, in the medium-term, delivering it is as important for our future as cutting deficits and debt.

I am particularly pleased that EU leaders gave the green light for the launch of the first European Innovation Partnership. This will be on the theme of active and healthy ageing, and will aim to give the average European two more years of good health. As well as having enormous benefits for older people and their families, this would contribute to relieving the strain on public finances.

In line with the Commission's Annual Growth Survey, the conclusions stress the need for "smart" fiscal consolidation.

This should include maintaining, and where possible increasing, public R&D expenditure, as well as making it more effective in leveraging in other funding, so that we can reach the agreed 3% of GDP target for overall public and private R&D investment by 2020.

EU leaders have also given strong backing to a series of proposals in the Innovation Union to improve the framework conditions for innovative companies.

They have endorsed an EU-wide venture capital scheme building on the European Investment Fund.

They have supported our call for a reinforced Risk Sharing Finance Facility.

They have agreed on the need to act to promote procurement of innovative goods and services and to accelerate and modernise standard setting in Europe.

They have backed launching work to build a modern intellectual property system, including the possibility of a European knowledge market.

Last but not least, they have agreed that the European Research Area must be completed by 2014.

So these conclusions are very much at the upper end of our expectations. On almost all of our proposals, we have the endorsement of EU leaders. This gives us the momentum we need to start delivering.

There is no time to lose. As our recent Innovation Union Scoreboard highlighted, a step change in Europe's research and innovation performance is required if we are to achieve a sustainable exit from crisis, catch up with the US and stay ahead of emerging nations."

Link to President Barroso's presentation to the Heads of State and Government

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