Maire GEOGHEGAN-QUINN Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Innovation Union Scoreboard highlights the innovation emergency in Europe: opening remarks by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the press conference Brussels, 1 February 2011
European Commission - SPEECH/11/60 01/02/2011
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Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Innovation Union Scoreboard highlights the innovation emergency in Europe: opening remarks by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the press conference
Brussels, 1 February 2011
Members of the press love a league table.
Heads of state and government are not always so enthusiastic.
However, they are sensitive to this kind of instrument and to the articles you will be writing – and that is good, as we approach the European Council, where for the first time EU leaders will adopt detailed conclusions on innovation.
But this revamped Innovation Union Scoreboard is not a league table to be discussed and filed away.
We are asking Member States to act on it in their Europe 2020 National Reform Programmes, by building on strengths and addressing weaknesses.
Today's Innovation Union Scoreboard is a sharper tool than before, more closely linked with the Innovation Union. Overall comparisons with the results of former European Innovation Scoreboards are difficult, given changes in the indicators used.
But progress on individual indicators is tracked in the Scoreboard.
Indeed, what matters most is not the ranking but the speed and direction of travel – there are promising signs in Bulgaria and Romania for instance, though they are near the bottom of the table.
All Member States, even the leaders – Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany – need to work harder. Because anyone who stands still will not be in the leading group next time.
If Europe stands still we will see the US disappear into the distance just as we feel emerging nations breathing down our necks.
The slide provides a graphic example – the EU share of world R&D expenditure has decreased by a fifth over fifteen years.
So President Barroso will be inviting heads of state and government at the European Council to take a personal lead.
The pledge cards we have distributed outside today will also be circulated at the European Council.
Meanwhile, let me say it again.
World-beating science is essential to the Innovation Union. But the Innovation Union is above all an economic strategy and a strategy for jobs. It is the other side of the deficit reduction coin. The growth side of the coin.
Innovation is as essential to sustainable growth and jobs as water is to life. Economies that do not innovate will wither away. So this Scoreboard is a key instrument also of the Europe 2020 Strategy and of the Annual Growth Survey we published last month.
The Scoreboard will complement other measures of progress – notably the 3% of GDP target for investment in research and development. The provisional figures for 2009 show us at just over 2%, a notable increase. But that was a year of negative growth in many Member States.
The true test will come over the next few years.
President Barroso will be asking the European Council to deliver smart fiscal consolidation. Cutting deficits and debt. But maintaining or increasing public investment in research and innovation.
Growth and jobs depends on bringing research results to market. Our competitors have acted on this. The Commission is now asking EU leaders to back European Innovation Partnerships. These will help address Europe's weaknesses in this Scoreboard and help give Europe a lead in the global markets of the future. The Partnerships will bring together European, national and regional levels, scientific leaders and different parts of the private sector to meet clear goals. The pilot Partnership, on active and healthy ageing will aim to give Europeans an average of two extra years of healthy life by 2020.
I'd like to say a word about the Green Paper on EU research and innovation funding that I will present to you next week. The Commission wants to keep our side of the Innovation Union bargain, by getting the best value for money for every euro from the EU budget.
We intend to bring under one umbrella all our current research and innovation funding tools. We want to offer a seamless set of financing instruments, both grants and loans, supporting the whole chain from blue sky research to SMEs.
A key element will be radical simplification. We'll be using the Green Paper to kick off a modern, inclusive and innovative consultation process.
We'll already be asking the European Council this week for its broad support for the main ideas, before we unveil the detail next week.
By the way, the new programme will not be called FP8 – we are looking for something snappier!
I want to finish by saying: don't just take our word for it!
Listen to the European Round Table of leading industrialists. Listen to the League of European Research Universities. They and many other leading stakeholders are asking heads of state and government to deliver the Innovation Union.
Listen to President Obama's State of the Union address. It is no coincidence that the EU and the US, the world's largest and most advanced economies, have come to strikingly similar conclusions about how to ensure sustainable growth.
Indeed there has been plenty of transatlantic dialogue and Antonio Tajani and I have been privileged to take part.
The EU and the US face the same global challenges. Both need to stay competitive in a merciless world.
But the Scoreboard shows starkly that on 10 out of 12 comparable indicators our American friends are ahead of us.
Europe is 27 countries and our efforts on research and innovation have been more fragmented than we can afford. We now need to work together, so that in a few years' time this Scoreboard tells a better story.
Resounding backing from EU leaders for the Innovation Union would be the perfect start.