Brussels, 25 November
Today in Brussels European
Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin presented two new publications
on Europe's position in research and innovation. The "Key figures
2003-2004 for science, technology and innovation", and the "Brain
drain study - Emigration flows for qualified scientists" display
a bleak picture. The March 2000 Lisbon European Council's call to
turn Europe into a world-class economic powerhouse, and the subsequent
March 2002 Barcelona Council's objective of boosting EU spending
on R&D from 1,9 to 3% by 2010, are far from being met. Progress
is slow and in some areas we are even losing ground. The growth
rate of investment in the knowledge-based economy is declining;
the R&D investment gap between the EU-15 and the US is increasing
in favour of the US and 'brain drain' is on the rise. The two new
publications highlight an overall deterioration of Europe's scientific
and technological performance.
“Additional efforts are needed
to keep the Union on track in its process of reaching the overall
Lisbon and Barcelona targets, “said European Research Commissioner
Philippe Busquin. “More than ever, it is paramount to maintain
and enhance the attractiveness of the European Research Area (ERA)
as a place to carry out world class research. The implementation
of the Commission’s action plan for increasing investment
in R&D and the improvement of the researcher’s environment
and mobility become, in the current situation, a key priority. I
call on EU Member States and industry to upgrade their efforts in
this field. No more lip service: we need action - now”.
Vital statistics on S&T
and brain drain
The first publication is the fourth
edition of the EU ‘Key Figures on Science, Technology and
Innovation’ report, which, for the first time, provides comprehensive
data for the acceding and candidate countries. The second one is
an in-depth study on the mobility of human resources in science
and technology within Europe’s borders and beyond, entitled
‘The Brain Drain - Emigration Flows for Qualified Scientists’.
In 2000-2001, the EU-15 experienced a significant slowdown of its
transition towards a knowledge-based economy. The growth rates of
both the overall investment and overall performance in the knowledge-based
economy were much lower than during the second half of the 1990s.
Acceding and candidate countries
For the first time, systematic data
exists for the acceding and candidate countries as well as an EU-25
average, which offers valuable insight into the degree of convergence
(or divergence) between the existing and new Member States. All
Acceding and Candidate countries are lagging behind the European
average in terms of both overall investment and performance in the
transition to a knowledge-based economy. However, there are indications
that a large majority of them are catching up with the rest of Europe.
A widening gap with the US
As far as R&D expenditure is
concerned, the EU-15 is far from closing the large absolute investment
gap with the US. On the contrary, the R&D investment gap between
the EU-15 and the US has continued to increase in favour of the
US. The trend has been negative since the mid-1990s and the latest
data does not show any reversal in the trend. About 80% of the gap
comes from the difference in domestic business R&D expenditure
between the US and the EU-15.
European companies invest
in research – but in the US!
Moreover, analysing the flow of
business R&D expenditure between the Triad (US-Japan-EU-15)
shows that the US attracts one third more R&D expenditure from
EU-15 companies than US companies allocate to the EU-15. This implies
that, for the year 2000 alone, there was a net outflow of nearly
€ 5 billion of European R&D investment, mainly to the advantage
of the US research system. Compared to other world regions, the
EU-15 is attracting a share of about 10% less US R&D spending
than ten years ago. This trend underlines a major weakness for Europe,
namely the inability to attract enough knowledge-intensive and knowledge-producing
capital in the global knowledge-based economy.
Brain drain on the rise
The ‘brain drain’ of
people born in Europe is increasing. Seventy one percent of EU-15-born
US doctorate recipients who graduated between 1991 and 2000 had
no specific plans to return to the EU-15, and more and more are
choosing to stay in the US. The most important reasons keeping European
scientists and engineers abroad relate to the quality of work. Better
prospects and projects and easier access to leading technologies
were most often cited as reasons behind plans to work abroad.
Less scientific publications
and patents in the EU-15
This year’s publications also
highlight a deterioration of Europe’s scientific and technological
performance (as measured by publications and patents) compared to
the US. The EU-15 is still lagging behind the US in terms of technological
performance and does not appear to be catching up, whereas its world
leadership in scientific performance seems to be declining. Moreover,
at world level the share of Europe’s high-tech trade is substantially
inferior to that of the US and Japan. Although recent growth rates
of high-tech exports have been higher in the EU-15 than in either
the US or Japan, the EU-15 still has to make up for a large gap.
Background: what to do now?
At the Competitiveness Council meeting
tomorrow, November 26, 2003, Research Ministers will address competitiveness
and growth. This follows up discussions from the November 10 Council
meeting, when the Council addressed the 3% Action Plan and the career
High time to implement the
3% Action Plan
On 30th April 2003, the Commission
adopted a Communication on “Investing in research: an action
plan for Europe” (COM(2003)226) which sets out initiatives
to reach the Barcelona ”3% objective”. The Action Plan
identifies initiatives required to increase the level of investment
in research in the EU from 1.9% to 3% of average Gross Domestic
Product (GDP), with two-thirds financed by the private sector. Priorities
include promoting human resources, developing a European risk capital/venture
capital market, improving the environment for the development of
new technologies, and intensifying co-operation between industry
and public research.
The Initiative for Growth
The Action Plan and "3% objective"
feed into the Commission's "Initiative for Growth", as
endorsed by the October 16-17 European Council. The Initiative for
Growth aims at encouraging Europe's economic recovery by focussing
on transport infrastructures and major research projects. Within
this framework, the Commission recently presented a list of "QuickStart"
projects, including R&D projects on space, nanotechnology, next-generation
lasers, and hydrogen and fuel cells.
Plugging the brain drain
high on agenda
On November 10th the Council also
adopted a Resolution on the profession and the careers of researchers
in the ERA. This follows on from the July 2003 Commission Communication
on “Researchers in the European Research Area: one profession,
multiple careers”, which identifies factors that impact on
the development of careers in R&D, namely training, recruitment
methods, employment conditions, evaluation mechanisms and career
advancement. It also feeds into the drive to increase the number
of researchers in the European Union to meet the objective of increasing
European research spending to 3% of EU GDP by 2010. According to
recent estimates, this would require 700,000 new researchers.
Keeping best brains in Europe
– and encouraging them to come back
The Commission's initiatives in this
field include the launch of a “European Researcher’s
Charter”, of a code of conduct for the recruitment of researchers,
and of a European Year of Researchers. It calls for further analyses
and data gathering on career development issues and research training,
and for further improvement in the work of the Researchers' Mobility
Portal and the European network of mobility centres. The Commission
also calls for the establishment of criteria to record different
professional achievements throughout the career of researchers,
and for identifying and exchanging good practice on the evaluation
and appraisal systems for careers in R&D.
It encourages social dialogue, as
well as dialogue among researchers, stakeholders and society at
large, including improving public awareness of science and promoting
the interest of young people in research and in science careers.
It addresses the conditions of doctoral candidates, and asks for
the promotion of equal opportunities for male and female researchers.
It also fosters efforts to remove other obstacles to researchers’
mobility. The Commission is currently preparing a proposal for a
directive on facilitating entry conditions for third country researchers
to the EU, thus increasing their mobility from a third country to
an EU member state and benefiting research and development across
For more information please contact:
Scientific officer, Indicators and economic annalysis unit, Research
Tel.: +32.2.295 04 46, E-mail: Viola.Peter@ec.europa.eu.
Press officer, Information and Communication, Research DG
Tel.: +32.2.295 99 71, E-mail: Michel.Claessens@ec.europa.eu.
Spokesman for Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, Press DG
Tel. +32.2.296 41 74, Fax +32.2.296 30 03, E-mail Fabio.Fabbi@ec.europa.eu
Additional information :
Brochure: Towards a European Research Area, Science, Technology
and Innovation - Key
The reports and a series of snapshots providing more
information are available at:
The “3% Action Plan”:
Combating the brain drain:
The Initiative for Growth