Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Coordination or bust, says Lisbon

Coordination is the key word which has emerged from the Lisbon European Council Summit held on 23 and 24 March. Key players used the event to establish the new strategic goal of becoming the most 'competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustaina...
Coordination is the key word which has emerged from the Lisbon European Council Summit held on 23 and 24 March. Key players used the event to establish the new strategic goal of becoming 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'. Greater coordination was put forward as the best means of realising this goal.

Addressing what it described as the challenge of 'building knowledge infrastructures, enhancing innovation and economic reform and modernising social welfare and education systems,' a series of conclusions were published at the end of the event as to how to establish these conditions. A key element in them all is the coordination of various policies; through different disciplines, different countries and different applications.

Several examples of how increased coordination can help were used. The new services sector, for example, can benefit from more skills in the areas that are underdeveloped. This would create more employment, develop the skills base and help those industries within that sector benefit from a more appropriate workforce.

Research and development's role is seen as key. Firstly, there has to be a reward for the innovation that is produced in the EU. The first step towards recognising this is to follow the steps set out in Commissioner Busquin's communication 'Towards a European research area'. This would ensure that patent protection, as well as other measures, would mean that Europe is an attractive location for the best brains.

Other concrete measures proposed in Lisbon include:

- Developing the appropriate mechanisms for networking national and joint research programmes on a voluntary basis around freely chosen objectives;

- To map, by 2001, research and development excellence in all Member States so as to foster the dissemination of excellence;

- To improve the environment for private research investment, R&D partnerships and high tech start-ups through the use of tax policies, venture capital and European Investment bank (EIB) support;

- To encourage the development of an open method of coordination of benchmarking national research and development policies and identify, by June 2000, indicators for assessing performance in different fields, in particular for human resources, with the introduction by June 2001 of a European innovation scoreboard;

- To facilitate the creation of a very high speed trans-European network for electronic scientific communications by the end of 2001. This anticipates a level of help from the EIB, but would provide a link between research institutions, universities, scientific centres and eventually schools;

- To take steps to remove the obstacles which presently exist to the movement of researchers in Europe by 2002;

- To ensure that Community-wide patent protection is simple, comprehensive and inexpensive to obtain by the end of 2001.

One of the main areas where the Council wants these measures to have a clear effect is in employment, particularly in that created by SMEs. It recommends therefore that a benchmarking exercise be issued by June 2000, with it reporting its first results in December 2000. The exercise will highlight how long it takes to set up an SME, the costs and the number of business and science graduates and training opportunities.

In education too, the changes should make a notable impact. Development of local learning centres, promotion of new basic (information technology) skills and increased transparency of qualifications should increase the base and transferability of skills.

In addition to setting out the central European objectives, the conference also spelled out some desired goals for the individual Member States, which included a recommendation of a substantial annual increase in per capita investment in human resources and establishment of a European diploma for IT skills.

Finally, the conference welcomed the participation of EIB in helping to fund some of the recommendations that had been forwarded. However, it warned that most of the resources needed would have to come from the private sector or at least through private/public partnerships.
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