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European Commission > Investing in European Research > 2003 – Action Plan ‘Investing in Research’

2003 – Action Plan ‘Investing in Research’

Communication in all languages :
Communication with its Annex in brochure format English [ - 711 Kb]

The Action Plan "Investing in Research", proposed by the Commission in April 2003, focuses on the initiatives required to close the research investment gap existing between Europe and its main trading partners.

In 2001, the level of research investment in the EU was 1.9% of GDP compared to 2.7% in the US and 3% in Japan. This gap had worrying consequences for the long-term potential for innovation, growth and employment creation in Europe.

Europe is penalised by relatively unattractive research conditions in many respects, such as, for instance, researcher’s careers, the financing of technology-intensive SMEs and the management of intellectual property rights.

The Action Plan is based on a broad and systemic approach to research and innovation. This is the only credible path to address the issues at stake, as confirmed by supporting studies.

The Action Plan is comprised of four main sets of actions:

  1. Ensure the coherent development of policies to support research.

    It is necessary for EU countries and stakeholders to progress jointly. The steps taken by the main actors need to be mutually consistent and form an effective mix of policy measures. This objective is pursued through a process of "open co-ordination" of national policies, European technology platforms and a mutual learning process for European regions.

  2. Improve public support to research and technological innovation.

    This goal will be achieved by improving the career opportunities of researchers, by bringing together public research and industry and by developing and exploiting fully the potential of European and national public financial instruments.

  3. Redirect public resources towards research.

    Budgetary policies need to favour investments in areas, such as research, that will lead to long-term sustainable growth. The possibilities offered by Community frameworks such as State aid rules and public procurement rules ought to be fully exploited for that purpose.

  4. Improve the framework conditions for R&D

    Protection of intellectual property, regulation of product markets and related standards, competition rules, financial markets and fiscal environment are among the priorities covered by this particular set of actions.

As part of the overall Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs, the Action Plan addresses specific aspects related to research. However, for this plan to be fully effective, it relies on an effective mix of policies covering other policy domains, notably structural reforms in product, services, capital and labour markets.

In particular, measures to support research investment must go hand in hand with measures to boost innovation, such as those proposed in the communication on ‘Innovation policy: updating the Union’s approach in the context of the Lisbon strategy’ English [ - 229 Kb] also published in 2003.
See also the Commision's communication ‘Industrial policy in an enlarged Europe’ English [ - 185 Kb] and the Green paper ‘Entrepreneurship in Europe’ English [ - 240 Kb].

The Action Plan was very well received by the Council of Ministers English [ - 170 Kb] as well as by the European Parliament.

It led to a number of significant initiatives at a European level and national level. Two years on, however, the need was felt to update and complement the Action Plan. This was done through the Commission’s Communication ‘More research and innovation - A common approach’ of the 12th of October 2005.

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