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Brussels, November 10, 2000

European research: flying high or down the drain ?
Figures and indicators about science, technology and innovation in Europe

Keywords: Key Figures, science, technology, innovation

The 2000 edition of "Key Figures in Science, Technology and Innovation" (PDF-file; 1,59 Mb)

You always wanted to know how Europe performs in terms of growth, employment and competitiveness as compared to the US and Japan. You are curious about the investment of different countries into the creation of the knowledge-based economy. Perhaps you never understood whether there is a link between the performance of educational systems and innovation. All relevant figures that might be of help in this context are now easily at hand in the latest “Key Figures” booklet on European science and technology policy indicators , which has just come out.

The booklet addresses five major areas of quantitative and statistical analysis comparing the European Union, its Member States, the US and Japan, their research and development efforts and performance in the short and long term.

  1. Performance in terms of growth, employment and competitiveness and the respective contribution made by research, technological development and innovation. One of the findings is that in 1999, the high-technology sectors and knowledge intensive services contributed significantly to the improvement in both growth and the employment situation in Europe. These sectors only represent about 20% of employment in the European Union but, based on data available from the Community Labour Force Survey, the rate of growth of employment in these sectors is double the average for the manufacturing sector (1.7% as opposed to 0.9%) and the service sector (6.4% as opposed to 3%).

  2. Investment in knowledge – research and development expenditure, education, software – and venture capital investment, i.e. spending patterns in the perspective of the knowledge economy. Available figures provide proof that after a steady decline, the percentage of GDP spent on R&D (intensity of R&D) has been growing steadily between 1994 and 1999 in both the USA (to 2.7%) and Japan (to 3.1%), while it has remained at around 1.8% in the European Union.

  3. Human resources in and for science and technology, including certain indicative figures of mobility and attractiveness. The European Union has fewer researchers as a proportion of its work force (5.1%) than the USA (7.4%) and Japan (8.9%). This difference is even more marked if one looks only at the number of researchers employed in industry.

  4. Scientific and inventive “output”, innovation and high-tech trade, including a number of regional indicators. The booklet shows that the European Union's shares of scientific publications world wide (37.8% in 1998) and citations (38.2% in 1998) increase rapidly (respectively 1.7% and 2.1% each year), whereas those of the USA (32.9% for publications and 51% for citations) are declining sharply (respectively –2.1% and –0.9% each year). Although 47% of European patents are from the European Union, it accounts for a much smaller proportion of patents in the American and Japanese systems and the Americans and Japanese have substantially greater shares of patents in the European system.

  5. Indicators on the pattern of co-operation in Europe. Patterns of co-operation in innovation activities between European companies vary considerably from one Member State to another; in general, firms in Scandinavian countries co-operate more than those in the other Member States.

Commissioner Busquin underlined that the availability of reliable data and statistical information are an important contribution to the creation of the European Research Area (ERA) which is the centrepiece of the Commission’s vision for the future of research in Europe. “I am fully aware,” said M. Busquin on receipt of the report, “that the present data are not as such elements for the benchmarking of national research policies, which is essential for our move towards ERA. But they will provide useful input to the important benchmarking initiatives which are under preparation”. Commissioner Busquin also welcomed the finalisation of this publication as a proof of excellent co-operation between his services and those of Commissioner Solbes.

The 2000 edition of “Key Figures” is published at an important moment for science and technology in Europe. All experts do in fact agree that the availability and use of pertinent and comparable indicators are a prerequisite to guide strategic research policy issues and monitor progress in implementation.

For further information, please contact:

Jean Bourlès, Competitiveness, economic analysis and indicator Unit, Research DG,
Fax: +32-2-295.64.64, E-mail:

MichelClaessens, Communication Unit, Research DG,
Fax: +, E-mail:

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PRESS RELEASES | 29.01.2001