Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

R&D in Europe: 1998 Annual statistics

The 1998 annual statistical report on research and development in Europe has recently been published by the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT). The report compiled uses four key indicators to benchmark activities in research and development and to compar...
The 1998 annual statistical report on research and development in Europe has recently been published by the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT). The report compiled uses four key indicators to benchmark activities in research and development and to compare performance with previous years. The indicators used are total spending, R&D budget appropriations at a national level, the total number of personnel involved, and the number of patent applications.

The report shows that during 1996 a total of ECU 139,600 million was spent in EU on research and development. This marks an increase of 3.8% as compared to 1995, when a total of ECU 123,600 million was spent. This figure represents about 1.9% of the GDP in the EU, and is still much lower than that for Japan or the USA. Within the overall figure, some 60% was committed to R&D by businesses and enterprises, with the remainder split equally between higher education and government. Almost two-thirds of this expenditure was accounted for by Germany, France and the UK.

With regard to the number of personnel employed in R&D activities, this has remained fairly constant, compared to the 1995 level. A total of around 2.1 million scientists, technicians and other related personnel were employed in the sector during 1996. This represents approximately 1.25% of the total EU labour force, with the number of personnel engaged in R&D activity considerably higher in Germany, France and the UK. It is however also noted that in Germany and the UK the number of personnel employed in R&D has declined in comparison to previous years, while levels in the smaller countries continue to increase, with the Nordic countries reaching their highest level so far, along with Greece, Spain and Ireland.

Patent applications, a long-established indicator of innovative activity, technological development and a useful measure for international comparison, are on the increase in the EU. A total of 34,600 applications were submitted during 1996, compared with the 1995 figure of 33,651. Some 70% of these applications are accounted for by Germany, France and the UK, with figures for individual Member States and Norway provided in the report.

National government appropriations for R&D, involved a total of ECU 56,000 million, representing an increase of 47% from the 1986 level. The statistics also reveal that the differences between Member States are considerable, with Sweden devoting a total of 1.16% of its GDP to R&D activities, while Greece only committed a total of 0.31% of its GDP. An additional chapter of the report is devoted to specific developments in individual Member States, followed by a global comparison on R&D expenditure.

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