Brussels, 14 May 2003
Following a brief presentation by Commissioner Busquin of the Communication "Investing in Research: An Action Plan for Europe ("3% Target")", the Council held a preliminary exchange of views on the Communication. It instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to undertake a more detailed examination of the Commission's Action Plan with a view to the Council returning to this issue at a forthcoming session.
Ministers underlined the importance of a systemic and dynamic approach for investing in research. Discussions centred mainly on issues such as the importance of a public-private partnership in order to achieve a high level of investment in Research and Development (R&D) and priority actions at EU and national level necessary for achieving the 3% target of investment and the role of the regions in this context. Ministers also commented on the need for sector specific measures and expressed a generally favourable view on a light approach to implementing the open method of co- ordination concerning the 3% target.
The Commission's communication is to be seen in the general context of the Lisbon economic reform process. It responds, in particular, to the Barcelona European Council conclusions setting a target of 3% GDP expenditure for research.
The Action Plan put forward by the Commission suggests some 50 new actions in research and innovation policies as well as in other policy areas. Many of the actions are geared to making Europe more attractive for private investment in RTD. The main challenge of the Barcelona objective on RTD is the raising of the business contribution to the Gross Expenditure for R&D from 56% in 1999 to 67% in 2010, while total GERD/GDP will increase from 1,9% to 3%.