EU: Common approach to R&D Policy. Council will make a reality of the European Research Area

November 27, 2002

Copenhagen, 26 Nov 2002

The EU Member States will listen more to each other in the future when national policies for R&D are being put in place. This is a way of remedying for the fragmentation which is still the picture of the overall research and innovation efforts in Europe, and which is one of the major handicaps for European enterprises in the global competition.

This was decided by the research ministers when they discussed today in the EU Competitiveness Council a communication from the Commission about providing new momentum in the European research cooperation, the aim being to make a reality out of what has been called the European Research Area.

- EU's Framework Programmes constitute only around five percent of the overall public spending on R&D in Europe. The other 95 percent consists of the national investments and programmes as well as in the activities undertaken by other European organisations for research cooperation. Therefore, there is a need for more cooperation, says the Danish Minister for Science Mr. Helge Sander.

During today's Council meeting Mr. Sander proposed to establish as soon as possible more concrete mechanisms, which can provide for a more systematic coordination of a larger part of the overall European research and innovation efforts, while fully respecting the autonomy of the Member States.

What is envisaged is the "open method of coordination", the application of which was deciced in principle by the European Council in Lisbon more than two years ago. The method is based on a voluntary approach, the establishing of common objectives and exchange of experience between the Member States.

- We now have a commitment on the side of the Member States to go further with this," says Mr. Sander. Then the job is to get more concrete mechanisms in place, so that we know who is doing what. This will happen in the near future.

- The vision is to create a genuine internal market for research and innovation in Europe. It seems that we are gradually starting to open up our national programmes to each other. Moreover, the Council today said, that we must do our utmost to assure the free movement of researchers across the borders - today they must spend time and energy on red tape which has nothing to do with science. That, I believe, is going to have a considerable effect, not just on what we get out of our investments, but certainly also on the quality of the research," Mr. Sander says.

Danish Presidency Website http://www.eu2002.dk/main/

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