Brussels, 07 May 2003
EUROCHAMBRES, the European association of chambers of commerce and industry, has welcomed the Commission's action plan on boosting investment in research, but has questioned the likely effectiveness of some proposals.
'The business community applauds the Commission for producing a concise and comprehensive assessment of the R&D [research and development] challenges facing the European Union, and for proposing a series of actions which are, by and large, clear and specific,' said Christoph Leitl, President of EUROCHAMBRES.
The organisation is particularly appreciative of four aspects of the action plan:
- the commitment to review progress annually, and to assess the efficiency of actions taken;
- the proposal to create stakeholder platforms for the development of key technologies;
- the proposal to eliminate national rules and practices that impede European cooperation and technology transfer;
- the development of national and regional guarantee programmes to improve access to equity financing for research and innovation by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
'Investing now in research and innovation is an investment in the future prosperity and growth of the whole enlarged Union,' said Mr Leitl.
However, EUROCHAMBRES is not convinced that the open method of coordination, as proposed by the Commission, will exert sufficient pressure on the Member States to undertake the 26 action points for which they are responsible, or in which they are involved. 'While this plan sets out an important blueprint, it will come to nothing if Member Stats do not really support it, push it and turn it into reality,' said Mr Leitl. He cites the case of the Lisbon agenda as an example of open coordination which has not been effective, where progress has been a lot slower than desired.
The organisation would also like to see more of a commitment to increasing the participation of SMEs in national R&D programmes. 'EUROCHAMBRES regrets that the Commission goes no further than recommending that the Member States should consider setting targets for SME participation in national R&D programmes, on the model of the 15 per cent target set in the Community research framework programme,' reads a statement.
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