Low R&D budgets ‘threaten EU competitiveness’

An EU initiative to create a common research area has helped to make the Union more attractive for foreign scientists, but spending on science and research is still far too low for the bloc to catch up with the US or Japan, according to a new study.

“At a time of crisis, it is not the moment to take a break from investing in research and innovation.
They are vital if Europe wants to address the challenges of climate change and globalisation,” EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Poto─Źnik remarked.

As part of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs (see EurActiv LinksDossier), EU leaders set themselves the goal of boosting R&D spending to 3% of GDP, which they agreed was necessary to keep Europe competitive and make the notion of a knowledge-based society a reality.

“If I had to give a mark to the EU, I would say ‘average’. ‘Strong potential and must perform better’,” Potocnik said, presenting a report on the bloc’s progress in the field of R&D and innovation.

According to the commissioner, the gloomy picture is a result of lower private sector investment in the EU at a time that it increased substantially in the US, Japan and China. The latter, especially, is emerging as a new science and technology actor, with an R&D growth rate of 50% between 2000 and 2006, Poto─Źnik stated.

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For the “Science, Technology and Competitiveness key figures report 2008”, please click here

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