Speaking at the International Women's Leadership Forum in Stockholm on 7 May 1996, Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, education and training, stated that investment in research and education should enjoy priority over all other fields. Mrs. Cresson emphasized that education cannot just be considered as the formal schooling at the start of life. Individuals should be encouraged and enabled to renew, extend and expand their skills and knowledge throughout their lives. On the subject of research, the research effort should be intensified in closer cooperation with industry, and the use of limited resources should be optimized. Closer links are needed between basic and applied research, and between laboratories and companies. Research priorities should be identified on the basis of social needs and economic imperatives. Mrs. Cresson also pointed to the importance of regional economic groupings, such as the European Union, both in trade developments and in the organization of research efforts. The particular advantage of these groupings is the avoidance of duplication in research efforts, and therefore their optimization. Long-term competitiveness depends on the ability of economic and political operators to design and create products which will be successful in the market. Successful innovation rests on creating demand, not responding to it. The role of politicians, she said, was to ensure that the drive for competitiveness benefits the ordinary citizen. Investing in workers' potential for innovation, and their training, is the way to meet the challenge of competitiveness.