The Czech Presidency of the EU and European Commission launched on Wednesday the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 with the slogan “Imagine. Create. Innovate”. The Year was inaugurated in a ceremony in Prague by the Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The aim of the Year is to promote creative and innovative approaches in different sectors of human activity and help equip the European Union for the challenges ahead in a globalised world. A conference to mark the launch of the Year was held in Prague on Wednesday, attended by a host of personalities including high representatives of EU member states, of the European Commission, members of the Czech government and several Ambassadors of the Year. The Conference ran in parallel to the meeting between the Commission and the Czech Government and was followed by the evening ceremony in the National Theatre in Prague. The European Year was started against the backdrop of the current economic crisis and many speakers underlined that boosting creativity and innovation is part of the solution. "We do not know how long this crisis will last and how deep it will become. But when it is over, those who will have invested in creativity and innovation will find themselves well ahead of the pack", the European Commissioner for Education, Culture and Youth Jan Figel' said in his address. The Prague conference was preceded in the morning of the 7th of January by a round table attended by several Ambassadors of the Year and presided by Esko Aho, Executive Vice President of Nokia and Former Prime Minister of Finland. These eminent personalities adopted a set of recommendations for EU governments and institutions which were presented by Mr Aho at the afternoon conference (see annexes). There was unanimous consensus that investment in education and in the skills and creative capacity of Europe should be the top priority of EU institutions and governments. It would be a fundamental mistake to cut research and development and education spending in the context of the current crisis, stressed the document, according to which creativity and innovation are tools to tackle Europe´s challenges, including the move to the knowledge society, demographic change, globalisation and climate change.
The Year is conceived as a horizontal, cross-cutting exercise involving many areas. Apart from education and culture, it involves enterprise, regional and research policies, energy, transport, environment and the information society. Already in the first days of 2009 it has attracted a lot of interest from the Member States, regions, companies, artistic circles and civil society. Conclusions of the roundtable of the Ambassadors of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation List of EYCI Ambassadors present at the launch in Prague