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Busquin calls on public and private sectors to increase R&D investment

EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin has called on both the public and private sectors to play their part in increasing R&D (research and development) investment in Europe. Speaking at the CEA (Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique) event on 10 September, Mr Busquin said tha...

EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin has called on both the public and private sectors to play their part in increasing R&D (research and development) investment in Europe. Speaking at the CEA (Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique) event on 10 September, Mr Busquin said that Europe's under investment in R&D is no secret. He said that this lack of investment is principally due to the private sector, whose investment in R&D represents only 1.1 per cent of the EU's GDP, compared to 1.8 per cent in the USA and 2.1 per cent in Japan. He emphasised however, that public authorities also have a role to play. 'The European and national public authorities clearly have a role to play. Above all it is a matter of improving the conditions for investment: human resources and capital markets, entrepreneurial spirit, the competition environment and regulation favourable to innovation.' Mr Busquin has proposed a communication for adoption in order to encourage a discussion on these issues. He emphasised that investment in R&D should not be considered solely in terms of expenditure, but investment for the generations to come. 'It determines scientific and technological progress which is crucial for sustainable growth and quality employment in a modern economy based on knowledge.' The Commission also called for changes to the EU's industry policy, which is essential, he said, 'if we want to respond to the challenges of Lisbon and Barcelona.' 'An important factor in the success of these initiatives is an attempt at coherence, between, on the one hand R&D which creates these new opportunities, and on the other hand, [...] the regulatory framework which makes faster commercialisation of new technologies possible.' The Commissioner highlighted biotechnology and fuel cell technology as two areas where an appropriate industrial policy is needed. 'These two examples show that industrial policy should take account of the quantity and quality of knowledge which nurtures growth and competitiveness. Without taking into account researchers and public and private investment, industrial policy will become empty, ignoring the knowledge which constitutes its motor.' All sectors will benefit from investment in R&D, emphasised Mr Busquin, particularly following the establishment of a European research area (ERA). 'The European research area is conceived as an area of shared values, in which access to knowledge and dialogue between those who produce knowledge (the researchers), those who benefit from the consequences (society) and those who are responsible for managing the incoming tide and the development of the results (public and private authorities) is fundamental.'