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Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

CORDIS: Community Research and Development Information Service

European Research Area

The European Research Area



Towards 3% of GDP


EU businesses investing in R&D despite economic crisis
Date: 2009-11-18

Corporate investment in research and development (R&D) increased by 8.1% in the EU in 2008 in spite of the economic crisis, according to new figures published this week in the 2009 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard...
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EU R&D spending unchanged in 2007
Date: 2009-09-09

In 2007 the EU spent EUR 229 billion on research and development (R&D), equivalent to 1.85% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to newly-released figures from Eurostat. The EU has set itself the goal of spending 3% of GDP on R&D by 2010; however, spending has remained stable at around 1.85% of GDP over the past few years...
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Science, Technology and Innovation in Europe. R&D; expenditure in the EU27 stable at 1.85% of GDP in 2007. Researchers account for almost 1% of total employment
Date: 2009-09-08

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities , publishes the 2009 edition of Science, Technology and Innovation in Europe 2. This publication covers a wide range of indicators in line with the strategic goals set out by the European Council in the Lisbon strategy...
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In March 2000, the Lisbon European Council set the goal of becoming by 2010 "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion". The project of creating a European Research Area, as proposed by the Commission in its Communication "Towards a European Research Area" was endorsed as a central element of The Lisbon strategy to achieve this goal.

Two years later the Barcelona European Council (PDF) which reviewed progress towards the Lisbon goal agreed that investment in European research and development (R&D) must be increased with the aim of approaching 3 % of GDP by 2010, it also called for an increase of the level of business funding to two-thirds of total R&D investment. Acknowledging the importance of this goal the 2002 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines of the Member States and the Community recommended to improve incentives for firms to invest in R&D while preserving sound fiscal policies.

The Barcelona objective is essential in realising the Lisbon strategic goal. The European Research Area together with the Sixth EC Framework Programme have contributed to better and more investment in R&D. In September 2002, the European Commission adopted a first Communication 'More research for Europe: towards 3% of GDP' (PDF) (2002-09-11) to consult Member States, industry and other stakeholders on the ways and means to achieve the objective set at the Barcelona European Council.

On March 2003, the Brussels European Council invited Member States "to take concrete action, on the basis of the Commission's forthcoming R&D Action Plan, to promote increased business investment in R&D and innovation, moving towards the Barcelona objective of approaching 3% of GDP ". It also called for the European Research and Innovation Area to be strengthened to the benefit of all in the enlarged EU, in particular by " the application of the open method of coordination in support of research and innovation policy in areas such as action pursuing the 3% of GDP target for R&D investment or developing human resources in science and technology, and the setting up a mechanism for taking stock of the progress achieved and assessing its efficiency".

Investing in research: an action plan for Europe

Building on the feedback, the Commission adopted in April 2003 a second Communication

putting forward an action plan identifying ongoing initiatives relevant to the 3 % objective, and new actions to be undertaken at national and/or European level.

The action plan is a call for action based on a broad and systemic approach to research and innovation. Both the consultation and supporting studies showed that such an approach is the only credible path to deliver the major increases needed in public and private research investment. The action plan comprises four main sets of actions .

  1. Progressing jointly.
  2. Improving public support to research and innovation.
  3. Redirecting public spending towards research and innovation.
  4. Improving framework conditions for investment in research.
Last updated on: 2009-11-19