Competitiveness Council urges increased research spending and coordination

The EU should invest more in research, facilitate the free movement of knowledge and strengthen its innovation system, ministers meeting at the EU’s Competitiveness Council agreed on 25

These and other recommendations will be submitted to the European Council for consideration at its meeting in March 2008 within the context of the re-launched Lisbon Strategy for Growth and

‘More and more effective investment should be made in research, innovation and higher education at all levels and the efforts to achieve the 3% R&D [research and development] investment
target should be reinforced,’ states the Council’s paper. It adds that Member States should set out how they will progress towards meeting national R&D investment targets when drafting
their National Reform Programmes.

The Commission and Member States are encouraged to continue developing initiatives for the joint programming of research, and to further advance coordinated and mutually complementary
international cooperation strategies for science and technology (S&T).

The paper calls for rapid progress on implementing the agreed Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) and Article 169 initiatives. It also notes the Commission’s intention to submit two further
Article 169 initiatives (on metrology and Baltic Sea science) before the end of 2008.

Ministers agreed that research infrastructures of pan-European interest should be strengthened, and that national strategies on developing research infrastructures should be drawn up by the end
of 2008.

Under the heading of ‘The Fifth Freedom’, referring to the free movement of knowledge, the Council looks forward to the Commission’s presentation of a communication on ‘family-friendly
scientific careers’. It also urges higher education reforms, an increase in broadband penetration and the better management of intellectual property at universities.

Turning to innovation, the Council conclusions urge both the Community and the Member States to improve their coordination of efforts to better framework conditions for innovation. Initiatives
include stronger science-industry linkages and support services for innovation and the development of clusters.

Ministers also urge an increase in procurement of R&D and of public procurement of innovative products and services, reasoning that this could lead to a greater use of innovation and
innovative technology for public services. Ultimately this would mean increased value for money.

The recommendations will be discussed along with other ideas on the second cycle of the renewed Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs at the March European Council in Slovenia.

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