Investment in infrastructure and R&D is common priority for Commission and Presidency

July 11, 2003

Brussels, 10 Jul 2003

Days after the Italian Presidency announced its priority of proposing investment in Europe's infrastructure as a means to stimulate economic growth, the European Commission has announced plans for a number of financial and regulatory measures to boost investment in Trans European Networks (TENs) and major research and development (R&D) projects.

Termed the 'Initiative for Growth', the package is aimed at breaking down the obstacles to private sector investment in these two areas through the fostering of a long term view and the drawing up of realistic policies. Governments are invited to review their spending plans, to redirect public investment towards areas which encourage growth, and to seek further private investment. The European Investment Bank (EIB) will also play a role in the initiative, although its contribution is yet to be defined in detail.

'The Initiative for Growth aims to give a strong signal of the Union's economic governance capacity to boost confidence in Europe's economic potential and consolidate economic growth,' said Commission President Romano Prodi. 'The need for action in the area of TEN infrastructure and R&D has already been highlighted in the Commission's Spring Report. But the initiative provides focus.'

When assuming the EU Presidency, the Italian government announced proposals for 'European action for growth', saying that the Presidency 'intends to promote a Community action to maintain the resilience of the European economy over the short term and to enhance its development capability, by relaunching public investment in infrastructure and transport, and in time to come to the intangible infrastructure sector likewise, in particular human capital, research and technology.'

A Commission spokesperson told CORDIS News that the Commission initiative was not prompted by the priorities of the Italian Presidency, as the Commission does not yet know the details of the Presidency's proposal. However, the two proposals represent 'a converging of interest and focus and a convergence of understanding about the problems on the table,' he said.

In terms of research, the Commission proposal calls for a European agenda for advanced research related to global security, as well as a harmonised European legal framework for risk capital investments in R&D. The initiative is also aimed at accelerating the creation of 'technology platforms' in areas considered to be of great importance, such as hydrogen, photovoltaic energy, nanotechnology, genomics and air and rail transport. And finally, the Commission is also hoping to stimulate the creation of funding partnerships of critical mass, bringing together resources from the EU's research framework programmes, the EIB and the Member States.

More concrete proposals, bringing together the Commission and Presidency suggestions, will be put to the European Council in October, said the Commission spokesperson.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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