Informal meeting of Industry and Research Ministers, 1+2 February 2002

February 1, 2002

Brussels, 31 January 2002

EU Industry and Research ministers will meet for two days in Girona, Spain. During the first day, they will hold three debates together. On the second day they will meet separately.

The Commission will be represented by Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen. The seminar will provide an input to the European Council of Barcelona in the field of research and innovation.

FRIDAY, 1 FEBRUARY

Joint debates on the following subjects:

Public support mechanisms for R&D and innovation; fostering mobility of researchers and technology

This debate will be supported by studies and presentations by outside experts. As emphasized in the report of the Commission to the European Council, the challenge is to reverse the growing gap between Europe and the US in R&D investment of the enterprise sector. Public support needs to be better focused on supporting business R&D investment. The growth in R&D investment needs also to be supported by more highly qualified, mobile scientists. Europe's ability to retain and attract the best researchers is vital. Obstacles to geographic mobility most often mentioned by researchers include, different social and taxation systems in Europe, visa-problems for third country researchers visiting Europe, intellectual property rights issues, family reasons and the difficulty of finding good position on return to their home country. Inter-sectoral mobility is also essential. These and other issues have been addressed in a strategy paper aiming to foster researcher mobility, which was adopted by the Commission on 20 June 2001. They will be taken a step further with a common strategy for research and higher education issues that the Commission intends to put forward later in 2002.

An important case-study for the ministerial discussion will be the recent strategy paper on biotechnology entitled: Biotechnology: an example of cutting-edge technology. Promoting innovation and R&D to foster the competitiveness of European industry, which, which will be discussed for the first time with the ministers.

For more information see IP/02/122 and the website http://europa.eu.int/comm/biotechnology/introduction_en.html

More information on bio-entrepreneurs see
http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/quality-of-life/biotech/introduction_en.html

Projects on wind power and solar energy will also be presented to ministers to illustrate the possibilities of public-private collaboration especially in the fields of technology transfer and spin-off companies fostered by a university.

Innovation is a key element of enterprise policy, and it contributes to the goal, set at the March 2000 European Council in Lisbon, of making the EU into the world's most competitive knowledge-based economy within a decade. Innovation, as an important part of enterprise policy, will also be amongst the issues to be addressed by the forthcoming Barcelona European Council (15-16 March 2002), which will review progress towards the Lisbon goal. All EU Member States are improving their innovation performance, but the Union as a whole still lags behind the United States and Japan. Of particular concern is Europe's relatively weak investment by business in RTD, and a low level of high-tech patenting activity.

Commissioner Erkki Liikanen will stress the need to focus on all aspects of innovation, in order to raise awareness of the important role of entrepreneurs as wealth-creators in the EU economy.

Enterprises need a favourable regulatory environment and structural economic reforms to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. Action is needed to make framework conditions more enterprise-friendly and policies designed to make Europe more entrepreneurial need to be implemented.

Such framework conditions should stimulate investment in innovation; facilitate effective trans-European knowledge-sharing; to foster links between industry, finance and science;and encourage the creation of new companies their development beyond the start-up phase.

Background information on mobility of researchers: The Communication by the Commission on Researcher Mobility

Report of the High-level Expert Group on Mobility of Researchers http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/fp5/ pdf/finalreportmobilityhleg.pdf

Information on innovation:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/in novation/index.htm

Information on competitiveness:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/en terprise_policy/competitiveness/index.htm

Technology transfer and mobilisation of financial resources

The focus of this debate will be on mobilising risk capital resources, strengthening trans-national investment and fostering entrepreneurship as well as on intellectual property issues and knowledge transfer.

Background:

On the 7th of June 2001, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed a memorandum enabling the two institutions to co-operate in the funding of European research. The main objective of this action is to make the most of the grants given by the European Commission and the loans/risk capital granted by the EIB for research projects, research infrastructure and innovative enterprises. This objective shall be achieved by better co-ordinating the respective funding of the Research Framework Programme of the Commission and the Innovation 2000 initiative of the EIB (see also IP/02/807 ).

Information on access to finance:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/en trepreneurship/financing/index.htm

SATURDAY, 2 FEBRUARY

Session of Research Ministers

Research ministers will discuss the possibilities of opening up national research programmes. This will be financially supported by the Commission as one of the new elements of the sixth Research Framework Programme due to start at the beginning of 2003.

Background:

On the 30th of May 2001 the Commission adopted a communication on the opening up of national research programme. The rationale behind this idea is to increase the impact of national efforts in matters of interest to many Member States. The new Framework Programme will provide financial support in areas where their common interests coincide with the overall priorities of the EU. . By, for example, drawing up harmonised work programmes, co-ordinating the assignment of budgets, ensuring complementarity of efforts, and launching joint calls for proposals, overall effectiveness can be improved considerably. In order to be supported by the Commission, it is proposed that joint schemes should involve at least three Member States, or two Member States and one Associated State (Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, and Norway); candidate countries are eligible as well.

http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/cnc /2002/com2002_00en01.pdf

Session of Industry ministers

EU industry ministers will meet to address innovation as a key factor for European industrial competitiveness. They will discuss entrepreneurial risk-taking and innovation, and also the international dimension of innovation, including enhanced Euro-Mediterranean industrial co-operation, with a view to the Fourth Euro-Mediterranean Industry Ministers' conference to take place in Malaga on April 10, 2002. This will be a key event to reinforce the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and to progress towards the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area.

DN: MEMO/02/14 Date: 31/01/2002

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