Brussels, 19 Jul 2006
Business leaders from the EU and Japan met in Tokyo on 13 and 14 July, as part of the ongoing EU-Japan Business Dialogue Round Table (EJBDRT). They identified five priority areas for increased cooperation between Japan and the EU. Four of the five priority areas relate specifically to research.
The group this year met under the scrutiny of EU Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, and Minister Toshihiro Nikai, his counterpart at METI, the Japanese ministry for trade and industry. Joint-chairmen Georges Jacobs, chairman of the pharmaceutical group, UCB, and Yotaro Kobayashi Chief Corporate Advisor at Fuji Xerox, guided the group through the implications of the EU-Japan summit in April, where ever-closer ties were proposed. These new proposals are one way of forming closer ties. The delegates identified five priority areas, four of the five priority areas relate to research:
- ensure that society benefits from
innovations in the Life Sciences and Biotechnology;
- develop an EU-Japan partnership for both research and development (R&D) and standardisation of information and communication technologies (ICT), develop a regulatory environment for digital convergence, increase competition and open access to each other's markets, and develop ICT for future generations;
- develop rules for protecting intellectual property rights, and fighting piracy;
- develop joint research projects in areas such as biochemistry, biomaterials and biofuels.
CORDIS News spoke to Ms Diane Van Bockstal, Director of the Brussels office of the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation, and asked why research was so high on the agenda this year. 'It is not under the direct responsibility of either METI or Verheugen, although it is related. The mid-term analysis of the Lisbon agenda showed that there was not enough given over to research, which is important now,' she said.
The fifth area relates to taxation. At a parallel conference held in Brussels last year, 94 recommendations had been proposed as part of the ongoing 10-year action plan, between the EU and Japan, adopted in 2001. Unfortunately, little progress had been made in those areas since 2005, so 87 of the original 94 proposals have been re-submitted this year.
'At the end of the annual meeting, the private sector, represented by the CEOs, issues the set of recommendations to the EU and Japanese authorities - a list of things they think the authorities should tackle. Yesterday [18 July] we submitted the latest proposals to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the Finnish presidency of the EU and President Barroso. Because of the holiday season, the authorities will start to act on the recommendations, and by early 2007 we issue a progress report and start to plan for the next Round Table,' explained Ms Bockstal.
The two groups also examined other likely longer-term issues, for example, global warming, the high price of oil, IT usage, and the widening gap between rich and poor. The Round Table proposed a Study Group, made up from ministers, academics and businessmen to form proposals on a 'new global mechanics' within three years.
The two groups also pledged support for the current, Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, and floated ideas to explore for a mid-term review of the 10-year action plan, once the Doha round is complete.
The Round Table has met regularly since 1999, although its roots can be traced further back.