Brussels, 07 Dec 2004
In its proposals for the next phase of the Lisbon Strategy, the Commission is to draft a set of 'policy guidelines' for Member States aimed at mobilising public and private research investment, according to Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik.
In a speech to the European International Business Academy in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 6 December, Mr Potocnik warned that although nearly all EU countries have set individual investment targets, they are often not acted on sufficiently, with the result that efforts 'are not yet commensurate with the Barcelona 3 per cent goal.'
In response, therefore, the Commission plans to put forward a number of supporting initiatives to stimulate national research investment. 'This support can take the form of 'policy guidelines' to be implemented on a voluntary basis in areas where there is mutual interest for concerted action between Member States,' Mr Potocnik revealed.
For example, guidelines could focus on how best to use public procurement policies to boost investments by raising the research and innovation intensity of procured goods and services, or they could help identify and fill those gaps in national regulatory regimes that act as barriers to research spending.
Speaking in Slovenia - one of the EU's newer Member States - the Commissioner addressed the need to strengthen competitiveness throughout the Community: 'However, rather than dwell on enlargement specificities per se, I think it is more relevant [...] if I address the overriding competitiveness policy issue affecting the whole EU25 at the present juncture - i.e. the need to breathe new life into the faltering Lisbon strategy.'
Mr Potocnik continued: '[I]f the Lisbon strategy is to be effective, we - the EU with all 25 Member States - must overhaul its overloaded agenda of conflicting priorities, and come to its origins - growth and employment derived from knowledge-based competitiveness.'
One proposed action line under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) that may, however, be of particular interest to the new Member States is the development of regional actions to strengthen knowledge production, said the Commissioner. Such actions would focus on bolstering the knowledge potential of research groups and institutions that are not currently fulfilling their potential, and would clearly be relevant for organisations in the new EU countries and in other less developed parts of the EU.
'A new Regions of Knowledge scheme would help regions to build capacity for investing in R&D in a better and more efficient way, by optimising all possible funding sources for R&D investment, and in particular the EU Structural Funds,' Mr Potocnik concluded. To read the full text of the Commissioners speech, please: click here