On 23 June 2015, I was commissioned by the President of the European Commission to conduct an innovation policy review. On 30 June 2016, I submitted to him the results. Just in time, as in my student essay crises…
This seems like a good moment to take stock.
I have been fortunate to have had the active support of a wide network of colleagues and have received many outside contributions, both solicited and spontaneous, from many walks of life and many Member States as well from other continents. My personal high-points were brainstorming at Huawei's HQ in Shenzhen, and a one-day series of sessions at the EPFL campus in Lausanne. The overall quality and breadth of contributions from both within and outside the Brussels Beltway reveals to my mind both a general recognition that innovation is critical to the future of the planet and a desire to see a truly European collective contribution in what is a global innovation ecosystem.
My report's conclusion is that innovation is central to the priorities of the European Commission. I also conclude that there is room for clearer vision, closer cooperation and more ambitious pro-innovation leadership across all European (not only EU-level) actors. We must now await political assessment of that proposition…
My report also identifies, yet again, the increasingly urgent need to renew our machinery of government.
We cannot build Europe 2.0 with Government 1.0. At present we are at best muddling through.
Progress on reform depends on collective courage in the senior reaches of Civil Service: to create a climate of trust, risk acceptance and permissionless initiative; to increase the pace of change; and to stifle the manager class instincts of control. If the will is there, then the tools are to hand. We must wait and see.