Back R&D expenditure in the EU at 2.19% of GDP in 2019


© pogonici/

Research & Development (R&D) is a major driver of innovation, and R&D expenditure and intensity are two of the key indicators used to monitor resources devoted to science and technology worldwide.

In 2019, the Member States of the European Union (EU) spent over €306 billion on R&D. The R&D intensity, i.e. R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, stood at 2.19% in 2019, compared with 2.18% in 2018. Ten years earlier (2009), R&D intensity was 1.97%.

With respect to other major economies, R&D intensity in the EU was much lower than in South Korea (4.52% in 2018), Japan (3.28% in 2018) and the United States (2.82% in 2018), while it was at about the same level as in China (2.06% in 2018), higher than in the UK (1.76%) and much higher than in Russia (1.03%) and Türkiye (1.03% in 2018).

The business enterprise sector continues to be the main sector in which R&D expenditure was spent, accounting for 66% of total R&D disbursed in 2019, followed by the higher education sector (22%), the government sector (11%) and the private non-profit sector (1%).


R&D intensity above 3% in Sweden, Austria and Germany

In 2019, the highest R&D intensity was recorded in Sweden (3.39%), followed by Austria (3.19%) and Germany (3.17%), all with R&D expenditure above 3% of GDP. They were ahead of Denmark (2.96%), Belgium (2.89%) and Finland (2.79%), all registering R&D expenditure close to 3.0% of GDP.

At the opposite end of the scale, eight Member States recorded a R&D intensity below 1% of GDP: Romania (0.48%), Malta (0.61%), Cyprus (0.63%), Latvia (0.64%), Ireland (0.78%), Slovakia (0.83%), Bulgaria (0.84%) and Lithuania (0.99%).


R&D intensity in the EU (2019 data)

Source dataset: rd_e_gerdtot


Over the last ten years, R&D intensity rose in 19 Member States, with the highest increase recorded in Belgium (from 2.00% of GDP in 2009 to 2.89% in 2019, or +0.89 percentage points (pp)), Poland (+0.66 pp), Czechia (+0.65 pp) and Greece (+0.64 pp).

In contrast, R&D intensity decreased in 6 Member States, with the highest decrease in Finland (-0.94 pp) and Ireland (-0.83 pp), while it remained stable in the remaining 2 Member States: France and Sweden.  


For more information, you can visit the dedicated website section of science, technology and innovation statistics.



  • 2019 data on R&D expenditure presented in this article are preliminary and might therefore be revised. Following national calendar for the transmission of data, updated figures will be published in March and November 2021.
  • This article shows the situation before the start of the COVID-19, which might impact the 2020 data to be published next year.
  • The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.


To contact us, please visit our User Support page.

For press queries, please contact our Media Support.