Brussels, 5 April 2004
Dear Mr. President,
Honourable Members of Parliament
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me say how pleased I am to be here today. I know I have made many promises to meet with the Stuttgart Region.
Although I am leaving for China this evening, I wanted to use this opportunity to discuss with you the Lisbon and Barcelona objectives, in particular in the presence of Dr. Linkohr.
During my mandate I have had many debates on the European Research Area with Dr. Linkohr. In November 2003 we discussed the European Parliament resolution on the Commission communication on an Action Plan for Investing more in research in Europe for which Dr. Linkohr was Rapporteur.
I would like to quote two of his statements:
"If Parliament endorses the Commission's goal, … that attitude must be reflected in the budgetary procedure.
If we wish to be taken seriously, we must therefore urge the Council to raise the budget for the next framework programme".
This is indeed my message today: Europe needs to invest more in research if it wants to be competitive and modernize its infrastructures and way of production.
But more money should also go together with a clear research policy at European level: continue with the European Research Area, set clear research priorities, create poles of excellence, networking of regions, improve the research base in our universities, ensure coherence between the different policies at every level: regional, national and European.
For the panel discussion, I would like to share with you some priorities for Europe's competitiveness.
Investing more in research: the 3% objective
Europe invests 40% less in R&D than the United States.
It should be noted that this gap comes mostly from the private sector: industry is not investing enough in research (100 billion more on research in the United States than in Europe in 2002).
Investing more in research should create 2 million extra jobs in Europe.
Public investment in 2003 and 2004 has, however, increased.
So there is progress but not enough.
The Action Plan suggests several measures.
I believe that fiscal measures are a good way to encourage private investment in research. Tax measures in the Netherlands amount to 12,5 of public spending, 16% in Austria and up to 42% in Latvia. On its turn it has stimulated private investment. It is therefore a good policy mix measure.
But tax measures have to be taken at national level: the Commission has no power to do so. In taking tax measures, we need to be coherent with other policies: state aid; avoid re-nationalisation of research efforts.
To stimulate investment by enterprises, the Commission will establish a Score Board indicating which and how enterprises in Europe invest in research.
Co-ordination of national programmes should be improved.
Links with European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund have been strengthened: over 15 billion Euros have been invested in research, development and innovation since 2000.
By 2010 we expect this figure to have reached 60bn Euros - 50 bn from the bank and 10bn from the fund.
Europe also needs more scientists if we want to achieve the Lisbon objectives. The aim is that out of 1000 employments, 8 shall be researchers: 8 per 1000 is not that much but today we have only 5,5 per 1000.
On this, the private sector is doing better than the public sector.
Europe needs to promote better scientific careers: partnership between Industry and Universities is a good way to achieve this.
In the Communication on Building the Future, the Commission has proposed that in the EU budget for 2006-2013, the research funding should be doubled.
This money should be spent on 6 axes:
- consolidation of collaboration: continue with Integrated Projects and Networks of Excellence; evolve towards poles of Excellence; - private/public partnership: technological platforms; - fundamental research: introducing more competition among research teams; - increase human resources actions (Marie Curie); - infrastructures: Europe needs infrastructures in the leading sciences; - promoting co-ordination: ERA-NET.
And besides research money, the structural funds should be used to increase the competitiveness of the Regions.
Of course, I realize this is not of direct interest to a Region as Stuttgart.
But using structural funds to stimulate competition will help other Regions to develop its innovation capacity. And this will allow Stuttgart to create regional networks with other innovative regions.
This brings me to the Regional dimension of the European Research Area.
Regional Dimension and SME's
Networking is the most productive at regional level.
The Regional dimension is very important because it allows networking of Small and Medium Sized enterprises, in close collaboration with university and research institutes, and in areas of direct economic and social importance.
To fully develop the Regional dimension we need to improve and facilitate the access to the support measures for Small and Medium Sized enterprises.
We need more transparent information on the different actions available; we need better coordination and complementarity between actions taken at local, regional and at European level.
Consolidation of the various Commission support mechanisms including the IRCs, Gate2Growth etc. is necessary.
The creation of an SME "Helpdesk" under which all support measures for SME's are grouped, would be a step in the good direction; idea of "guichet unique".
This goes in the direction of Dr. Linkohr's ideas on Innovation Area.
At European level, we need also to support networking of Regions; development of industrial and scientific parks where SMEs can share experience, infrastructure, rely on scientists and get support to develop their ideas in terms of intellectual property rights and bringing their ideas on the market.
In 2003, a new pilot project - KnowREG - was conceived to do this.
This project focuses on both the integration of regional initiatives and on support activities and has a budget of 2.5 Million Euros for the first year.
I am pleased to announce that a week ago, 14 such pilot schemes were launched.
This brings me to the last point: European Innovation Area.
On this I say: yes and no.
First, to increase innovation we need a solid research base: no innovation without research.
Secondly, innovation is in the first place the responsibility of enterprises and therefore, difficult to intervene with public money.
Thirdly, avoid duplication; ensure complementarity.
For example, in order to be competitive we need to look at the entire chain of the production. Support measures to kick off important research efforts can be justified. I am thinking of nanotechnology which is so new that some extra support might be necessary to help SMEs to develop and demonstrate their nano-ideas.
I am also thinking on the increasing need to protect inventions by Intellectual Property Rights: this is costly. SME should get support to take a patent.
There is progress but not enough and too slow.
Research is on the political agenda: we need to keep the momentum.
Efforts are needed in particular by Member States, which need to accelerate their budget reallocation.
But efforts are also needed by the private sector, as demonstrated by the success of the Stuttgart Region.
Finally, to Dr. Linkohr:
I have always enjoyed discussing with him; learned from him. Let me say: Au revoir! Viel Erfolg im Neuen Leben.