Industry round table calls for 'action not words' to reach Lisbon goals

February 5, 2002

Brussels, 04 February 2002

The Chairman of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), Baron Daniel Janssen, has called for less talk and more action in reaching the Lisbon goal of making Europe the world's most competitive knowledge-based society.

Speaking at a debate on the conclusions of the 2001 European competitiveness report on 30 January, Baron Janssen said that the ERT strongly supported the Lisbon Summit's 'ambitious, yet feasible' goals, but admitted the organisation was disappointed with the rate of progress in general and stalling in key areas such as the creation of a Community patent.

Baron Janssen said in the ERT's view, 'the Council in particular has underperformed, watering down or delaying key elements of different proposals.' He added that in addition, 'the Parliament is still not fully on board,' pointing to the loss of the EU takeover Directive as an example. However the ERT Chairman praised the efforts of the European Commission and DG Enterprise for their 'effective' approach in pushing the Lisbon agenda and the eEurope initiative.

He called on EU governments to galvanise their efforts in reaching the Lisbon goals, saying that at the Barcelona European Council, Member States should 'solve problems not identify them.'

Commissioner Liikanen also highlighted the 'regrettable' lack of progress on the Community patent, and outlined some of the main challenges he had identified in making the Lisbon goals a reality. He said that faster broadband rollout, the promotion of Internet content, getting governments online, increased Internet security and ensuring digital skills for all would be crucial in creating the eEurope of tomorrow.

Mr Liikanen added that more effort is required in education, training and lifelong learning as for Europe, 'the most promising areas are often the most knowledge-intensive.' He also emphasised the importance of R&D (research and development) and innovation, explaining that 'high productivity growth tends to go hand in hand with higher R&D efforts.' He said that the priority must be to increase private sector investment in R&D, as EU governments' investment in R&D is comparable to that of Europe's competitors, but the private sector lags behind.

Professor Reinhilde Veugelers from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), Belgium, called for action to improve the 'poor performance' of Europe's biotech sector. Professor Veugelers said particular focus is needed on small dedicated biotech firms, or DBFs, which have a 'pivotal network position within biotechnology.'

She explained that in order to reduce the gap in biotechnology performance with the USA, Europe would need to diversify and increase the connectivity of its biotechnology activities, through cooperative agreements and research.

'The focus,' she explained, 'should be not only on creating DBFs but on how we can make sure that they survive.' She said that network agreements and cooperative agreements are essential to the survival of DBFs, and called for an improved intellectual property regime so that researchers working in Europe benefit from their innovations.

For further information, please consult the following web address: e/index_en.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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