Research boom for Baltic states

April 6, 2007

The Baltic states are the European Union's boom region for research spending increases, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.

Annual real-terms growth rates in research spending between 2001 and 2005 ranged from 18 per cent in Latvia and 17 per cent in Estonia to 11 per cent in Lithuania.

The UK growth rate was rather more static, with a 0.7 per cent increase, reaching €29.9 billion (£20 billion) in 2005.

The Baltic states' current spending also shows scope for more years of large increases, with 2005 budgets still relatively small: Estonia has a budget of €104 million; Latvia €73 million; and Lithuania €157 million.

Among richer, long-established EU members, Ireland performed best, with an increase of 8.5 per cent to €2 billion over four years to 2005, while Spain's research and development spending rose 8.4 per cent to €10 billion.

Other large EU countries registered smaller increases, mirroring the UK record: Germany saw growth of 1 per cent to €56 billion; France was up 0.6 per cent to €36 billion; and Italy up 0.8 per cent to €15 billion.

EU research spending is still less than its major competitors. The newly expanded -member union spent some €200 billion in 2005, which was about 1.84 per cent of gross domestic product. But in 2004, research and development expenditure was 2.68 per cent of GDP in the US and 3.18 per cent in Japan.

Eurostat reveals that some EU countries reduced their research spending during 2001-05. Belgium and Slovenia reduced it by 2 per cent, Slovakia by 1 per cent.

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