Investing in human capital: innovation, research and development and skills (Extract from Presidency Conclusions Brussels European Council 16/17 October 2003)

October 20, 2003

Brussels, 17 Oct 2003

    Innovation, research and development and skills are crucial for Europe's growth potential. Action will concentrate on mobilising investment and getting the right regulatory conditions in areas such as research infrastructures, science parks, industrial innovation and research and development projects, information and communication technologies, the financing of education and training facilities, through increasing investments in education and a better integration with labour and social policies. Various European instruments should play their part, notably European technology platforms, EIB instruments, the Structural Funds, and preparatory actions such as the one proposed on security research. It will also seek to address the problem of first commercial production units, where the individual company may not reap the full benefit of its research and development and innovation spending and hence the level of aggregate innovation is sub-optimal. Specific attention must be devoted to the needs of innovative SMEs that operate on the technological boundary and to technology transfer to peripheral regions.

Next steps: decisions on follow-up

    In order to make the rapid progress necessary to perform a definitive assessment of the Initiative and take concrete decisions at its December meeting, the European Council, taking account of the ECOFIN report:
    • invites the Commission, the EIB and the relevant formations of the Council to establish, without prejudice to the priorities identified in the Commission proposal, a "quick-start programme" identifying a list of projects in an enlarged Union based on transparent criteria, along with assessments of their significance for the integration of the internal market in the enlarged Europe, their economic and financial viability, their impact on growth and the leveraging effect on private capital;

    • invites the Commission and the EIB to present, in time for thorough preparation by the Economic and Financial Committee of the 25 November ECOFIN Council meeting, their final reports on the Growth Initiative; these reports should in particular:
      • explore how best to increase the involvement of the private sector in financing projects, including the use of the EIB's Structured Finance Facility,

      • develop instruments aiming at leveraging private capital, in particular through the securitisation of existing assets, and examine which assets could be used for such purposes,

      • develop better coordination of procedures between EIB financing, Structural Funds, the TENs budget line and the Sixth Framework Programme,

      • establish a framework for a comprehensive evaluation of the Initiative after 5 years. All the relevant formations of the Council will contribute to this evaluation. The Commission will report annually to the European Council through the Spring Report.

    Moreover the Council is invited to finalise work on proposals to eliminate technical, legal and administrative obstacles to TENs, in particular cross-border sections, PPPs, innovation and R&D projects; the Commission will also clarify ESA 95 principles on the national accounting treatment of PPPs to ensure increased transparency including the recording of government guarantees in the national accounts and the treatment of securitisation arrangements.

The European Council invites the Member States to complement the Growth Initiative by national growth programmes. The Council will coordinate the Growth Initiative with these initiatives taking place at national and European level, so as to ensure complementarity and best use of resources, thus enhancing the overall impact of the initiative, and will report to the Spring 2004 European Council on action taken in this regard.

creating favourable conditions for growth and employment

Enhancing the competitiveness of the European economy

    An integrated strategy for European competitiveness involves horizontal action to ensure that a range of policies are pursued in such a way as to contribute consistently to the goal of enhancing the factors of competitiveness for enterprises and industry. Key policies in this regard are the internal market, action in support of industry and research and technology, with the easing of administrative and regulatory burdens providing the required underpinning. The European Council stresses the pivotal role of the Competitiveness Council in ensuring that this integrated approach is applied on the ground and thus in contributing to creating a favourable environment for enterprise, an effective internal market and more research and innovation. The European Council invites the Commission to present to its December meeting a report containing proposals to improve the industrial framework with a view to avoiding de-industrialisation.

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