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Press 2007

Commission launches new information source on research systems and policies in the EU


The Commission is today launching ERAWATCH, a new online information platform on research systems and policies within the European Union. ERAWATCH supports the ongoing construction of the European Research Area (ERA) by providing policy makers and policy analysts working in the field of science and research with condensed and updated information and analysis on the development of research systems and policies in all Member States of the European Union plus selected other countries. It contains information on recent policy documents, research programmes, funding agencies, research performance as well as major indicators such as expenditure, publications and patents

Public consultation raises ambition for the European Research Area


Universities and research institutions, companies, non-governmental organisations and individuals from across Europe and beyond have sent in more than 800 contributions to a public consultation on the future of the European Research Area. While in-depth analysis of the responses is on-going, the main trend is clearly widespread support for the concept of a European Research Area (ERA) and its priorities, as outlined by the Commission in its Green Paper (see IP/07/469). The responses also provide ideas on how to reinforce and extend the ERA. The consultation will continue at a high-level conference in Lisbon on 8-10 October. The Commission aims to come forward with proposals in specific areas in 2008.

Low business R&D a major threat to the European knowledge-based economy


Today the European Commission presents a new publication on Europe’s position in research and innovation. The “Key figures 2007 on Science, Technology and Innovation” shows that R&D intensity (R&D expenditure as % of GDP) in Europe has stagnated since the mid-nineties, while major competitors such as Japan, China or South Korea have been able to increase substantially their R&D effort, shaping a world where knowledge is more evenly distributed than ever before. Moreover, the R&D investment deficit against the US has remained constant over recent years. In particular, the low level of business R&D in the EU remains worrying. Key Figures 2007 shows that differences in the industrial structure of the EU compared to countries such as the US are the main cause for this low level of business R&D, with the EU having a smaller high-tech industrial sector, which usually has much higher levels of R&D spending. The new actions taken in Europe since 2005 in the context of the revised Lisbon Strategy need to be implemented if Europe is to successfully face this challenge.

European Commission and EIB launch new instrument to finance research and innovation


Today the European Commission & the European Investment Bank (EIB) sign a cooperation agreement establishing the new risk-sharing finance facility (RSFF) to support research & innovation in Europe. This new instrument will help to make more financing available for promoters of research & innovation projects, which often face more difficulties than traditional business sectors in accessing finance, due to the relatively high levels of uncertainty & risk inherent to their activity. The RSFF, part of the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) & EIB’s programme for Research & Innovation, will partially cover the financial risks assumed by the EIB when financing this type of activity. The contribution of €1 billion each from FP7 & the EIB will therefore unlock billions of additional financing in this area.

State aid: Commission launches consultations on simplified rules for block exemptions


The European Commission has presented for consultations new draft rules to exempt more subsidies from the notification obligation laid down in EC Treaty state aid rules. The new so-called ' block exemption' Regulation would on the one hand simplify and consolidate into one text five existing block exemptions for aid to SMEs, research and development aid in favour of SMEs, aid for employment, training aid and regional aid. In addition, the new Regulation would also allow the block exemption of three new types of aid: environmental aid, aid in the form of risk capital and exempting Research and Development aid (R&D) also in favour of large enterprises. Subsidies which fulfilled the conditions laid down in the new Regulation would be considered as compatible with state aid rules without requiring prior notification to the Commission. Interested parties are invited to submit comments by 3 June 2007. Following a further round of consultations, the Commission intends to adopt the final version of this regulation before the summer of 2008.The initiative forms part of the State Aid Action Plan, designed to simplify the state aid rules and refine the economic analysis of subsidies (see IP/05/680 and MEMO/05/195).

Commission unveils its vision for the future of the European Research Area


Today the European Commission is putting forward its ideas for a European research area that makes the most of Europe's knowledge potential. The Commission's vision is to tap this potential by providing the freedom for people, infrastructures, organisations, funding, knowledge circulation and global co-operation to operate effectively, securing knowledge firmly at the heart of society. The Green Paper "The European Research Area: New Perspectives" recognises the challenges posed to Europe by underinvestment in and fragmentation of research and the growing globalisation of science & technology. Better generation and use of knowledge is crucial if the EU is to achieve its economic, social and environmental ambitions, as outlined in the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. There will be an on-line public consultation on the issues in the Green Paper open until August 2007. Contributions will be used in the design of concrete actions for the development of the European Research Area, to be put forward from 2008.

Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Brussels


The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Brussels on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 November under the chairmanship of under the Presidency of Mr Manuel PINHO, Minister for Economy and Innovation and Mr Mariano GAGO, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal. The European Commission will be represented by, Vice President Gunter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, Commissioner Charlie McCreevy responsible for the Internal Market and Services, Commissioner Janez Potocnik, responsible for Science and Research and Meglena Kuneva Commissioner for Consumer Protection.

Preparation of the Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Brussels, 28 September 2007


The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Brussels on Friday 28 June under the chairmanship of Manuel Pinho, Portuguese Minister for Economy and Innovation and José Mariano Gago, Minister for Science and Technology. The European Commission will be represented by Vice-President Günter Verheugen (Enterprise and Industry Policy), Commissioner Viviane Reding (Information Society and Media), Commissioner Meglena Kuneva (Consumer Protection) and Commissioner Janez Potocnik (Science and Research).

Preparation of the Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Brussels, 25 June 2007


The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Brussels on Monday 25 June under the chairmanship of Dr Annette Schavan, German Federal Minister of Education and Research. The European Commission will be represented by Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Science and Research and Jan Figel', Commissioner for Education and Culture. This Council will also formally adopt the text of the EU Roaming Regulation, already agreed upon earlier this month (see IP/07/696 and MEMO/07/233). After the Council meeting, there will be a short ceremony marking the association of Switzerland to the 7th Research Framework Programme.

Facts and figures of the European Research Area


The Commission has today published its vision for the future of the European Research Area (see IP/07/469). This background note gives some supporting facts and figures about research in Europe. It draws on material produced to support the Green Paper adopted today, which can be found in full at

Knowledge transfer between research institutions and industry – Frequently asked questions


The European Commission has today set out its views on improving knowledge transfer between businesses and research organisations (see IP/07/469). The Commission Communication, entitled "Improving knowledge transfer between research institutions and industry across Europe" is a starting point for discussions on a common European framework for knowledge transfer. The Commission has also proposed voluntary guidelines to help universities and other research institutions improve their links with industry across Europe.