The European Research Area, towards 3% of EU GDP (Extracted from Council/Commission press releases on the Competitiveness Council of 26 November)

November 28, 2002

Brussels, th November 2002

The Council held an exchange of views, based on the Commission's communication, " The European Research Area: Providing new momentum - Strengthening, reorienting, opening up new perspectives ", and adopted conclusions on the subject.

According to these conclusions, in the future EU Member States will listen more to each other when defining and implementing national R&D policies. They will improve co-operation in the research field, so as to reduce overlapping and fragmentation of research efforts, and help achieve critical mass and real added value at EU level. The aim is to help create the European Research Area, a true internal market for knowledge and science. Better co-operation between Member States should be based on voluntary and open co-ordination, as outlined in the March 2000 Lisbon European Council.

THE EUROPEAN RESEARCH AREA - Council conclusions

The Council held a policy debate on the basis of the Commission's communication, "The European Research Area: Providing new momentum - Strengthening, reorienting, opening up new perspectives", and adopted the following conclusions :

"the Council of the European Union,

RECALLING the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, which, in the context of setting the strategic target for the European Union to become the most competitive knowledge-based society by 2010, and in underlining the significant role played by research and development in generating economic growth, employment and social cohesion, asked the Council and the Commission, together with the Member States where appropriate, to take the necessary steps as part of the establishment of a European Research Area (ERA), including to:

- develop appropriate mechanisms for networking national and joint research programmes on a voluntary basis around freely chosen objectives;

- encourage the development of an open method of coordination for benchmarking national research and development policies;

- remove obstacles to the mobility of researchers in Europe ;

RECALLING that the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 agreed that overall spending on R&D and innovation in the Union should be increased with the aim of approaching 3% of GDP by 2010, and that two thirds of this new investment should come from the private sector; NOTING that this initiative is an important element in contributing to the successful implementation of ERA;

RECALLING the Council's earlier resolutions of 15 June 2000 on establishing a European area of research and innovation, of 16 November 2000 on making a reality of the European area of research and innovation:

guidelines for the European Union's research activities (2002-2006) in which it was considered that this must be the product of joint and voluntary effort and partnership between the EU, the Member States, the applicant countries, the associated countries and all scientific and technical research stakeholders, as well as the resolution of 10 December 2001 concerning the reinforcement of the mobility strategy within the European Research Area;

1. WELCOMES the submission of the Communication from the Commission entitled "The European Research Area: Providing New Momentum";

2. WELCOMES the progress achieved in developing the European Research Area, in areas such as benchmarking, networking and mutual opening up of national programmes, while noting the structural differences in Member States, as well as the varying pace of advance in the application of its different aspects;

3. WELCOMES the adoption of the 6th Framework Programme as an important and innovative strategic tool having a structuring effect on research and technological development in Europe and contributing to making a reality of ERA;

4. WELCOMES efforts currently being undertaken in the context of ERA to achieve closer linkage with other European co-operation initiatives such as COST, EUREKA and ESF, with a view to creating synergies while respecting their complementary roles;

5. AFFIRMS that a continuing strong commitment of the Member States is necessary for the successful implementation of ERA;

6. REAFFIRMS, in accordance with Article 165 of the Treaty, the importance that the Community and the Member States coordinate their research and technological development activities so as to ensure that national policies and Community policy are mutually consistent, and CONSIDERS that, while fully respecting the principle of subsidiarity, this coordination should take place at the national and European levels;

7. CONSIDERS that for achieving the objectives of ERA, as agreed in the Lisbon 2000 European Council conclusions, a method of open coordination on a voluntary basis could be developed;

8. ACKNOWLEDGES in addition the possibility of using legal measures where they can constitute the most appropriate and effective means of achieving the objectives of ERA, such as in the field of Intellectual Property Rights and RTD statistics;

9. INVITES CREST to recommend appropriate measures for strengthening the ongoing actions to advance ERA, in particular in its advisory capacity in relation to the coordination of the RTD activities of the Community and the Member States and in respect of the role of other European co-operation initiatives in ERA.

10. INVITES the Permanent Representatives Committee to study further the Communication from the Commission, with a view to assisting in the timely preparation of the necessary input for the Spring 2003 European Council. It is invited to pay particular attention to the following suggestions for improving conditions for encouraging better co-ordination:

· Examining, for achieving the objectives of ERA, the concrete use of an open method of coordination in accordance with the Lisbon 2000 Council conclusions, based on joint and voluntary efforts and in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity and the independent role of national policies.

· Strengthening the role of CREST in contributing to improved co-ordination within ERA, possibly by reviewing its mandate and working methods;

· Improving the mobility of researchers in the public and private sectors in Europe by the further identification and removal of persistent obstacles, where such obstacles span different policy areas, also taking into account other issues arising from the development of an effective mobility strategy for the European Research Area;

· Measures to favour innovation in ERA, so that those who generate knowledge are brought together with those who use, exploit and finance it, thus stimulating the free movement of knowledge and innovation.

11. INVITES the Member States, in collaboration with the Commission where relevant through CREST and other appropriate existing bodies, to strengthen the actions being undertaken to develop ERA further, in particular by:

· improving career development for researchers, including issues such as recruitment and retention of researchers;

· facilitating or continuing to facilitate entry and residence for researchers from third countries;

· encouraging national research organisations in Europe to co-ordinate their activities, while taking advantage of opportunities existing in the Framework Programme, as well as strengthening cooperation at a strategic level between managers of major national research organisations by building upon existing fora;

· making fuller use of the possibilities offered by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures for consulting and advising the Member States and the relevant European institutions;

· in co-operation with relevant national and European research organisations, continuing discussions on the purpose and scope of a European Research Council and exploring options for its possible creation;

· putting in place a more effective exchange of information and co-operation on international scientific co-operation policies;

· stimulating technological innovation, utilisation of research results, transfer of knowledge and technologies and the setting up of technology businesses;

· exploring the means for transferring knowledge of good practice and policies between regions in the European Research Area, including the regions of the Candidate countries;

12. INVITES the Commission, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, to facilitate the examination of all these issues, and to report to Council before the end of 2003 on the progress made in developing the European Research Area, with special emphasis on the issue of integrating other European co- operation initiatives."

The Presidency further noted that, in the light of the debate, as regards EUREKA, COST and the European Research Council:

- delegations would continue discussions on a concrete basis, on the purpose and scope of a European Research Council and to explore options for its possible creation, in co-operation with relevant national and European research organisations;

- delegations stressed the importance of EUREKA as an inter-governmental initiative of European states, focused on applied research and technology, and complementing the efforts of the European Union, undertaken, notably in the research Framework Programmes. The Commission is invited to use all the possibilities foreseen in the Sixth Framework Programme for strengthening cooperation between EUREKA and the Framework Programme, utilising the specific characteristics of both instruments to achieve optimum synergies in the spirit of Era;

- delegations reaffirmed Community support for COST as a valuable and flexible instrument for bottom-up scientific co-operation in the context of ERA; the Council welcomes the partnership between COST and ESF, as well as the ongoing reforms of COST; invites the Commission to take the necessary measures to ensure the successful continuation and increased relevance of COST, in the framework of ERA, during the implementation of the Sixth Framework Programme, bearing in mind the indicative financial allocation set out in the Council decision on the first Specific Programme "Integrating and Strengthening ERA".

More research for Europe - towards 3% of EU GDP (FF)

Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin presented the Communication " More research for Europe: Towards 3% of GDP ", and the Council held an exchange of views on the basis of a Presidency note.

The Communication is a first response by the Commission to the March 2002 Barcelona European Council's call on Europe to raise its research spending from its current level of 1.9% to 3% of EU gross domestic product (GDP). This should help the EU achieve the March 2000 Lisbon European Council objective of becoming the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.

Commissioner Busquin stressed the need for urgent action towards meeting the Barcelona target. He also underlined that business organisations have joined the Commission in this endeavour, requesting strong policy initiatives in this direction. Research Ministers welcomed the Commission Communication, and expressed their support to efforts towards achieving the 3% objective. They took note of the Commission's intention to present a new Communication by Spring 2003 containing proposals for concrete measures.

From the Council:

Investment in Research - 3% of GDP Objective

The Council held and exchange of views on the communication entitled "More research for Europe: Towards 3% of the GDP", following the presentation of this document by the Commission.

It took note of the Commission's intention to engage with the other EU institutions, the Member States, regions and industry in order to identify actions to be undertaken to encourage more effective R&D investment in Europe, in the preparation of its synthesis report to the 2003 Spring European Council.

The Commission's communication reflects the agreement reached at the European Council at Barcelona in March 2002 whereby Member States agreed that investment in research and technological development in the EU must be increased with the aim of approaching 3% of gross domestic product by 2010, up from 1.9 % in 2000.

The communication examines the possible ways and means of reaching this aim, and identifies a number of areas where action needs to be taken or existing action needs to be strengthened. It emphasises the need to make conditions more conducive to business investment and to raise the effectiveness of public financing in R&D so as to close the ever-growing investment gap in relation to industrialised third countries.

DN: MEMO/02/269 Date: /11/2002

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