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IRDAC discussions with the upcoming Austrian Presidency

The European Commission's Industrial Research and Development Advisory Committee (IRDAC) organized a seminar for senior European industrialists with the upcoming Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU, in Graz, Austria, on 19 and 20 June 1998. The main issues discussed w...
The European Commission's Industrial Research and Development Advisory Committee (IRDAC) organized a seminar for senior European industrialists with the upcoming Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU, in Graz, Austria, on 19 and 20 June 1998. The main issues discussed were the adoption of the Fifth RTD Framework Programme and the national action plans for employment presented during the Cardiff European Council on 15 and 16 June 1998.

The industrialists underlined the importance of innovation and R&D for employment creation and called for these factors to be given high priority in the employment action plans of Member States. This was illustrated by the example of the United States where, of the ten million new jobs created over the last four years, one third were created by SMEs in the high-technology sector, where innovation plays a crucial role.

European success stories were also discussed, such as the development of the European GSM standard, which has become established as the global standard and permitted an industry breakthrough creating tens of thousands of jobs. Investments in research and innovation in biotechnology have also increased employment in this field in Europe by 42% between 1996 and 1997.

The meeting also focused on the need for a quick decision on the Fifth RTD Framework Programme. Caspar Einem, the Austrian Minister of Transport and Research, who will hold the Presidency during the next six months, was requested to bring the discussions between Member States and the European Parliament to a decision before the autumn. This would allow the first calls for proposals to be published at the end of the year.

According to the chairman of IRDAC, Helmut List, a quick decision on the Programme is necessary "to ensure continuity of research at European level and to tackle the major problems which our continent is currently facing (e.g. decline in competitiveness, pollution, ageing, increase in infectious diseases, congestion in big cities)". European industry is very positive about the new problem-solving approach which is proposed for the Programme, but would like to see an increase in the current spending on research at European level, to be able to meet the challenges lying ahead.

Source: European Commission, IRDAC Secretariat

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