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European Commission presents Green Paper on Innovation

On the initiative of Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, education and training, and Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for industrial affairs, telecommunications and information technology, the European Commission has adopted, on 20 December...
On the initiative of Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, education and training, and Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for industrial affairs, telecommunications and information technology, the European Commission has adopted, on 20 December 1995, a "Green Paper on Innovation" in which it sets out proposals for a number of priority actions.

It is one of the great paradoxes of the European Union that despite its internationally acknowledged scientific excellence, it launches fewer new products, services and processes than its main competitors. In other words, it is innovating less and less well at a time when innovation is becoming a driving force in economic competitiveness. This state of affairs, which is the result of a number of structural obstacles (complex legal and administrative environment, inadequate R&D input, unsuitable financing systems), is a serious handicap to European companies and hence to employment.

Among the obstacles to innovation identified in the Commission's Green Paper are:

- The relatively low number of researchers compared with the USA and Japan;
- Insufficient expenditure on R&D (2% of GDP in the EU as compared with 2.7% in the USA and 2.8% in Japan);
- The wide diversity in legislation, regulations, fiscal and social conditions, and heavy administrative procedures which restrict innovation;
- The separation between science and industry, education and business, training and employment;
- Difficulty in mobilizing private capital;
- The need for improved coordination and concentration of efforts;
- The presence of linguistic, cultural and legal barriers restricting the movement of persons and ideas.

As a result of all these drawbacks, innovation is marking time in Europe, which is why the Commission wishes, with this Green Paper, to pave the way for a genuine European strategy to promote innovation. It, therefore, invites all the players concerned - public authorities, enterprises, the social partners, researchers, banks and investors, instructors and teachers - to take part in a wide-ranging debate on the priorities and lines of action which they regard as necessary to remove the obstacles to innovation in Europe. Following these consultations, the Commission will evaluate them and possibly draw up an action plan to be submitted to the other institutions.

The Green Paper spells out 13 lines of action, each containing a number of concrete proposals, almost 130 in all, with which to fuel the debate. Of course, with subsidiarity in mind, there is a need to distinguish clearly between responsibility at Community, national and local levels. Some measures need to be undertaken at Community level for reasons of efficiency - for example, to ensure the exchange of experience and the dissemination of good practice. Others might support or supplement national actions or actions undertaken by enterprises. In any event, they will not require any new funding but may be financed by redirecting existing programme funds.

Further information on the action lines and specific priority actions proposed by the Commission are given in the text field of this article.

Source: European Commission, DG XIII
DE FR

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