Brussels, 25 January 2002
Setting out the Spanish Presidency's priorities for research, development, innovation, industry, telecommunications and the information society to the European Parliament on 23 January, Spain's Minister for science and technology, Anna Birulés, indicated her wish to see the European research area (ERA) extended to include innovation.
The Minister reiterated the Spanish Presidency's research priorities: adoption of the Sixth Framework programme (FP6), development of the European research area (ERA), development of the international dimension of ERA and the promotion of sustainable and competitive development through R&D and innovation policies.
Emphasising the importance of innovation, Ms Birulés said 'the aim is also to extend the European area for research, making it into a European area of innovation, thus improving the competitiveness of our companies, strengthening links between them and the research institutions by increasing mobility amongst the different sectors of the scientific and technological community, increasing expenditure on R&D and innovation, especially private expenditure, mobilising venture capital, redefining fiscal incentives for R&D and improving conditions for the creation of innovative companies, especially in the SME [small and medium sized enterprises] sector.
Ms Birulés was optimistic about the adoption of FP6, saying that 'the parliamentary proceedings involved in the second reading of the programme should allow it to enter into force as soon as possible, unless the Parliament considers that yet further reflection is required.'
On the ERA, the Minister emphasised that combining Europe's scientific and technical excellence will improve its potential for innovation and develop a European market for technology that will both take advantage of and stimulate R&D and innovation.
The Spanish Presidency also has plans for telecommunications and the information society. After approval of the new regulatory framework for electronic communications there are two priorities: to take forward the 'eEurope - an information society for all' initiative, and to strengthen cooperation with Latin America with relation to the development of the information society.
Ms Birulés highlighted the importance of all of these issues for her President, José Maria Aznar, highlighting the creation of her ministry in 2000.
'This is the third time that Spain has chaired the Council of the European Union, and the first since it has had a Ministry of science and technology, which I have the honour of heading, and which is an indication of President Aznar's firm political commitment towards the strengthening of policies for scientific research, development and technological innovation, telecommunications and the information society, these being keys to the economic and social development and welfare of the people of Europe both today and in the future,' said Ms Birulés.