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Sir Richard Evans:

Time for Europe to measure up
Hamburg - 29 - 31 January 2001-01-28

I must begin by paying a very special tribute to Commissioner Busquin, every member of the group of personalities and above all the sherpas working group for all the excellent work they have done in concluding what was a formidable task to put together a vision for European aeronautics for the year 2020.

Given the long-term nature of our business, the pace of technology and the economic structures on both government and industry we should not shrink from a recognition that we face significant challenges in fulfilling our aspiration, which takes Europe to a leading global position in this area of work. This embraces not only industry and wealth creation but also affects the quality of life of the citizens of Europe.

We must meet these challenges and we should all recognise, as I recognise and my company recognises, that for the future wealth of Europe we must give our full support to the vision and the objectives expressed so clearly and eloquently in this report.

If we are to embrace this vision and seriously attempt to translate it into practice we must begin with an understanding of where we stand and why it is so important for Europe to act and give the commitment. We need straight away to face up to the stark statistics. In research and technology the benchmark against which Europe has to measure itself is the US. Not only is the US way ahead of Europe in overall spend, but most notably ahead of us in the proportion of that spend that comes out of government.

That is a message we must send very clearly to all European governments. Just to put some facts on that, in what is defined as aerospace R&D under AECMA's statistical surveys, EU member states spend less than half the figure for the US. In the EU, 55% is funded by industry while in the United States 35% is funded by industry. Put another way, the US government is spending in real terms three to four times the amount spent by governments in Europe. And that for me sums up our fundamental message. Europe has to act and we have to work together to produce more government investment.

We must work to ensure that this report provides the catalyst to secure the agreement of all the top stakeholders on the strategic way forward. And to do that Europeans must work together. We must avoid the duplication that comes from failing to work and co-operate across national boundaries. The recommendations in the report provide the key to this.

We need a Strategic Research Agenda for Europe constructed and agreed by all the relevant stakeholders. We need to establish the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research for Europe and we need the High Level Group to ensure that the wider political and economic considerations influence the debate about investment. And we need the Strategic Research Agenda to ensure co-ordination and complementary rather that duplicatory work across the funded European research programmes.

We must eliminate as much as possible the European disadvantage over the US when clearly a single government, with distinctive single funding bodies and single programmes has an inherent advantage.

We have lead the way in the past in both commercial aerospace and defence in aeronautics. We are all very proud of the record - I need simply to mention Airbus, Eurofighter, Concorde and Tornado. And we should not shrink from reminding people that we still lead in some areas today. When Airbus was formed there were sceptical politicians, sceptical economists, even sceptics in our own industry. The record today and Airbus status and position in the world market has shown the doubters to be quite simply wrong.

However, the initiative represented in this report tells us that the work we have to do is not just about individual projects or programmes. We must pursue this agenda on a broad front. If we and not the US are to be the world benchmark in this area then we must embrace these proposals -not only the specifics but also the wider strategic agenda they represent. We need to acquire a deep and collective understanding of the impact of technology, the adaptation of technology from other sectors and the ability to enhance the flow of technology collaboration across national boundaries and between the defence and civil areas. We also need to ensure that we work hard on increasing and retaining public support for the continued spend of taxpayers money in continued research and technology development for the good of all.

The proposals we have before us present a real opportunity for Europe. But we must not think of them as merely aspirational. We must not put ourselves into a mind-set that in this context we will always be lagging behind the Americans. We must not think of the practical aspects of this initiative as 'nice to have'.

If we are to retain our technological, industrial and economic strengths and independence and if are to become the global benchmark then acting on these recommendations becomes an imperative.

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