Brussels, 10 June 2002
Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin has said he will introduce a communication to help encourage business investment in research and development (R&D).
Speaking at the European Business Summit in Brussels on 7 June, Commissioner Busquin said the creation of a European research and innovation area will help to achieve the goal set at the March 2000 Lisbon Summit of making Europe the world's most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010.
But he warned that at present, private European investment in research represents only 55 per cent of the overall EU research effort. He said Europe must become more attractive for companies to invest in R&D as 'no enlarged economy will be viable without a strong EU research effort.'
Mr Busquin said that in the coming weeks, he will present a communication on ways to help achieve the target fixed at the Barcelona European Council of increasing R&D spending to 3 per cent of EU GDP (gross domestic product) by 2010. He also announced his intention to initiate a public debate on the issue, involving industry, the scientific community, finance, Member States and the European Parliament.
He said efforts are needed to boost Europe's current R&D spending level of 1.9 per cent of GDP, compared to 2.6 per cent of GDP in the USA and 2.9 per cent in Japan. He attributed the EU-USA spending gap to a number of factors, including the smaller number of high-tech SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the EU and the tendency of large EU enterprises in research-intensive sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, to carry out research outside the European Union.
Mr Busquin said that the communication and public debate will be an opportunity to design more attractive framework conditions for business-funded research and will help to improve the mechanisms currently in place.
'Achieving the three per cent objective will be a joint effort of all concerned,' he said. 'We have to work with industry and other stakeholders to make the Lisbon goal come true.'
For further information on Commissioner Busquin, please consult the following web address: http://europa.eu.int/comm/commissioners /busquin/index_en.html