Measures: Building the knowledge-based economy (Extract from Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council, 20-21 March)

March 24, 2003

Bruxelles, le 21 mars 2003

    Medium-term growth performance in Europe depends on tapping new sources of growth. Efficient and increasing public and private investment in all areas of the knowledge chain is a key factor in creating the skilled labour force and the innovation needed to underpin competitiveness. The momentum behind the European Area of Research and Innovation and the information society should be maintained.

    Against this background, the European Council urges Member States to take concrete action, on the basis of the Commission's forthcoming R&D Action Plan, to promote increased business investment in R&D and innovation, moving towards the Barcelona objective of approaching 3% of GDP.

    The European Council calls for the European Research and Innovation Area to be strengthened to the benefit of all in the enlarged EU by:

    • the application of the open method of coordination in support of research and innovation policy in areas such as action pursuing the 3% of GDP target for R&D investment or developing human resources in science and technology, and the setting up a mechanism for taking stock of the progress achieved and assessing its efficiency;

    • creating European technology platforms bringing together technological know-how, industry, regulators and financial institutions to develop a strategic agenda for leading technologies, in areas such as plant genomics or the transition to hydrogen as a fuel;

    • fully utilising the potential of the 6th Framework Programme and of national programmes in support of the European Research and Innovation Area, with particular attention for the cooperation with European intergovernmental research organisations and activities to enhance participation of SME's in research and innovation;

    • noting the Space Green Paper, with a view to moving towards a true European space policy, and adopting a framework for a joint EC/ESA space strategy by the end of 2003;

    • Member States and the Commission pursuing actively the agreed roadmap on biotechnology and rapidly finalising and implementing the necessary legislation;

    • strengthening the links between research and business, fostering exploitation of RTD results, and encouraging the creation of spin-off companies and mobility of researchers, calling upon business to set up a high-level forum to promote such links;

    • promoting a better understanding of science in society.

    The European Council recognises the role that defence and security related R&D could play in promoting leading edge technologies and thereby stimulate innovation and competitiveness; welcomes the Commission's Communication "Towards an EU Defence Equipment Policy"; invites the Council to analyse the role of defence R&D procurement in the context of the overall R&D activities in the Union, including the possible creation by the Council of an inter-governmental defence capabilities development and acquisition agency.

    The European Council recognises the importance of innovation in developing new products, services and ways of doing business; calls upon Member States and the Commission to take further action in order to create the conditions in which business innovates, in particular, by bringing together research, financial and business expertise; and urges that a framework of common objectives for strengthening innovation in the EU should be set up, including an assessment mechanism for taking stock of the progress achieved.

    The European Council calls upon the Commission and Member States to improve exploitation of intellectual property rights by taking forward measures against counterfeiting and piracy, which discourages the development of a market for digital goods and services; to protect patents on computer-implemented inventions. It expresses its satisfaction at the common political approach on the Community patent reached in Council earlier this month and calls on the Council to rapidly finalise work thereon.

    DN: DOC/03/2 Date: 21/03/2003

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