Irish Tánaiste calls for incentives to stop European brain drain to the US

January 23, 2004

Brussels, 22 Jan 2004

Speaking in front of the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, External Trade and Research on 21 January, Mary Harney, Ireland's Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise claimed that new measures are needed to keep the EU's science and technology graduates in Europe.

Currently, 40 per cent of the all scientists and researchers working in the US are EU graduates. It is of the utmost importance for the future development of European industry that the EU provides more incentives to curb this state of affairs, said Ms Harney.

'Innovation drives economic activity, growth and enterprise which is why the research agenda is so critically important for the EU. We produce more scientists and researchers than the US but too many of them move to the US to work,' said the Tánaiste. 'We must provide more incentives to keep these graduates in Europe and to attract others to work here.'

During the next six months, the Irish Presidency will concentrate on facilitating the free movement of scientists and researchers both within the EU and from third countries, announced Ms Harney. Issues such as increasing the proportion of the EU budget assigned to research, simplifying the procedure for access to funds, and strengthening the ties between industry and the higher education system will also be examined.

The ministerial conference taking place in Shannon on 25 and 26 April, entitled 'Routes to innovation for a competitive Europe', will bring together business leaders, the European Commission and ministers. 'This form of dialogue is new and has the capacity to stimulate original thinking about how Europe is to encourage growth and a knowledge-based economy' Ms Harney told her audience at the European Parliament.

Furthermore, the Irish Presidency will focus on resolving the Community Patent deadlock. Reaching a political agreement after 14 years of negotiations would give a new and welcome impetus to research and innovation in the EU, said the Tánaiste. Concurrently, settling the outstanding trade issues between the EU and the US would give a further boost to the European economy, she added.

Other issues on the Irish Presidency agenda are halting the relocation of multinational companies to cheaper third world countries, the recognition of professional qualifications across Europe and the new Chemicals Directive. This is especially important to the Irish Presidency, which is of the opinion that the EU must offer a balanced approach and be careful not to drive out the chemical industry with excessive rules and regulations. In the words of the Tánaiste, 'Less regulation can often mean better regulation.'

For more information on the Irish Presidency, please visit:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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