EU Research in Information Society Technologies vital for competitiveness but needs more investment and less bureaucracy, says Assessment Panel

January 18, 2005

Brussels, 17 January 2005

Europe’s research and development in Information Society Technologies makes a vital contribution to efforts to become the world’s most competitive knowledge economy. But Europe must step up this investment if it is to achieve “critical mass” in these technologies. So says a report, released by the European Commission today. The report also highlights the need to reduce bureaucracy, which threatens to stifle research. The report was written by a high-level panel of independent experts chaired by Professor J.M. Gago, former Portuguese Science Minister and one of the authors of the Lisbon strategy.

“Fast-changing IST research is, and must remain, a key driver for the rapid, economy-wide technological innovation, on which Europe’s skilled jobs ultimately depend”, said Viviane Reding, Information Society and Media Commissioner. “I intend to respond very quickly to the Panel’s concerns about red tape which is a general problem of EU Research programmes, but felt most directly in IST Research where we operate in a particularly dynamic and fast evolving environment.”

The Commission had tasked a high-level panel of independent experts to assess the effectiveness and achievements of IST research and development under EU research framework programmes 5 and 6 for the period of 1999-2003. The EU spends over € 1 billion per year on IST research and development. The key recommendations of the panel are:

  • Increase funding for IST RTD, as a unique driver for collaboration between firms and academia and a vital source of innovation in Europe.
  • Reduce bureaucracy, which aims for greater accountability, tighter controls on funding procedures and reduced risk, but now threatens to kill research.
  • Step up the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises, and new Member States, to bring them more into innovation networks.
  • Improve communications, and target them by audience to broaden take-up of research results.
  • Assess the need for additional human resources in IST research in Europe.
Commissioner Reding promised rapid political action on the recommendations of the panel: “We must make our bureaucratic procedures more efficient, while maintaining the highest levels of transparency and accountability, and we will discuss with the Council and Parliament how to get the balance right. But even more important, we need a mentality change in EU research policy. Bureaucracy does not eliminate risk, and can merely hide it. We have to accept that risk is inherent in research and that some failures are inevitable.

EU IST research can be made to work better, by harnessing the innovative talents of small high-tech firms, many from new Member States, that are the lifeblood of modern competitive economies.“

The panel report can be found at: http:///

Item source: IP/05/49 Date: 17/01/2005

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