Brussels, 09 Sep 2003
A newly published parliamentary working paper has called for the speedy implementation of the proposals put forward in the Commission's action plan on research investment in Europe.
The proposed action plan and sets out a number of ways in which the EU could raise its research expenditure to three per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), on the understanding that a third is accounted for by public funds and two thirds by the private sector. The points for action include cooperation; improving public support for research and innovation; redirecting public spending towards research and innovation; and improving framework conditions for private investment in research.
The parliamentary paper, drafted by rapporteur Rolf Linkohr, agrees with the overall thrust of the action plan, describing it as 'an important building-block in the edifice of a European knowledge-based society.' In particular, the paper supports the call for greater investment in research and development, making the point that in order to enable the EU to catch up quickly, research expenditure has to rise by eight per cent every year, entailing a six per cent increase in public funding and a nine per cent increase in business funding.
'If Europe could resolve to increase its research expenditure on the scale mentioned in the action plan, its economic growth would rise by 0.5 per cent. From 2010, 40 000 new jobs would be created every year,' claims the paper.
Despite it being omitted from the action plan, the paper argues that the budget allocated to the Framework Programmes also needs to be reconsidered, stating that 'the yardstick of the EU's determination to take its recommendations seriously will be the next FP.'
'Even if the Commission says nothing about the funding for the seventh research framework programme, perhaps because it considers it too early to do so, Parliament should nonetheless specify a figure,' states the paper, adding that it is the Parliament's duty to call for the portion of the EU budget earmarked for research to be raised to seven per cent in order to boost the next Framework Programme accordingly.
Other measures backed by the paper include proposals for establishing a European Research Council to deal with, among other things, basic research: 'The council could form an academic complement to the Framework Programme, which is orientated more towards applied and industrial research.' On his own initiative, the rapporteur also refers to the possibility of reviving the idea of a European research foundation, to help secure private funding at European level.
The working paper concludes that in order to enable practical measures to be taken at national and EU level as quickly as possible, a wider platform for discussion needs to be put in place, followed by the drafting by the Commission of a green paper based on the action plan's proposals.
The working paper, which has been presented for discussion to the Parliament's Committee on industry, external trade, research and energy (ITRE), is expected to be adopted in the Parliament's plenary session in December.
To read the working paper in full, please consult the following web address: