MEPs urge Member States to invest more in research

November 29, 2002

Brussels, 28 Nov 2002

Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin received overwhelming backing on Tuesday from the Committee on Industry and Research for his strong plea that governments should live up to the promises made at the Barcelona summit and increase research investment from the current 1.9% of GDP to around 3% by 2010.

He insisted that this was an overall target for the EU - not everyone had to meet this figure - but every Member State must contribute. For the time being only two Member States, Finland and Sweden, had reached this level. He issued a warning to governments that the EU might fall into decline if it did not meet the target.

In the last 10 years the competition, mainly from the USA and Japan, had become even stiffer than before. In 2000 the USA invested €120 billion in research, i.e. 75% more than the EU.

Commissioner Busquin had beside him a member of the "European Round Table of Industrialists", Mr Erkki Ormala, Director of Research of Nokia, who emphasised that Europe needed to create research platforms where European researchers could find solutions at EU level to the challenges posed by global markets. European research was currently too fragmented into national research policies, he said.

The response from committee members was virtually unanimous - and indeed rather worried. Yves PIÉTRASANTA (Greens/EFA, F) was concerned about the French budget: the new government, he said, was investing 13% less in research next year than in 2002.

Paul RÃœBIG (EPP-ED, A) told the committee that the credit ratings of those European companies that invested strongly in innovation had actually gone down.

John PURVIS (EPP-ED, UK) added that the European patent saga was verging on the disastrous and urged ministers to sit down and solve the problem.

Gérard CAUDRON (EUL/NGL, F) was worried about the moratorium on embryonic stem cell research and asked what would happen if the Member States did not reach agreement on the ethical issues.

26.11.2002 Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy       In the chair: Carlos WESTENDORP Y CABEZA (PES, E)

Press enquiries:Leena Maria Linnus - tel. (32-2) 28 42825e-mail: indu-press@europarl.eu.int

European Parliament News Report 2002-11-

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