A more attractive European Research Area but stagnating EU R&D intensity: no time to take a break!
The 2008 Science, Technology and Competitiveness (ST&C) key figures report published today provides for the first time an overview of progress from 2000 to 2006 in both EU R&D investment and in implementing the European Research Area (ERA). It shows that Europe's pool of researchers is growing and the EU is becoming more attractive for foreign researchers and for private R&D investments from the US. However, the stagnation of the EU-27's R&D intensity (R&D expenditure as % of GDP) at 1.84% is denting the EU's ambition to become a globally competitive knowledge-based society. Despite increased investment in research by many Member States and an improved efficiency of their research systems, the EU is still far from reaching its Lisbon target of investing 3% of GDP in R&D. A continued low level of business R&D investment, linked to an EU industrial structure with a smaller high tech sector than in the US, hampers the EU's performance. The 2008 Innovation Scoreboard published in parallel provides detailed results of EU innovation performance. Both reports prove that the EU must change its industrial structure, gear up on innovation and ensure more and better use of R&D.