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Luxembourg Presidency address to Industrial Technologies conference

Mrs. Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, Luxembourg's Minister for National Education and Vocational Training, the President-in-Office of the Research Council, addressed the opening session of the Commission's Industrial Technologies conference, in Toulouse, on 27 October 1997. She focus...
Mrs. Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, Luxembourg's Minister for National Education and Vocational Training, the President-in-Office of the Research Council, addressed the opening session of the Commission's Industrial Technologies conference, in Toulouse, on 27 October 1997. She focused on the importance of innovation for Europe's industries, not least for the large numbers of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Europe.

As President of the Research Council, she reported that discussions on the Fifth Framework Programme proposal, one of the Luxembourg Presidency's priorities, were progressing well. She hoped that the Council would agree on the broad political lines of the Programme on 10 November, and was confident that the Programme would be adopted within the time-scale required to ensure continuity of Community research efforts.

Innovation and the application of advanced technologies are crucial to Europe's economic survival, according to the Minister. Products need to be better designed, longer-lasting and have less impact on the environment, she continued. However, SMEs in particular risked missing out on the advances necessary due to a lack of resources to follow developments.

Research is becoming ever more multi-disciplinary, the Minister continued, and European companies need to become more attuned to cooperation and pooling their resources, as their Japanese and US competitors already have. Here, she said, the Fifth Framework Programme presents Europe's companies with the means to cooperate while sharing risks equitably. The Fifth Framework Programme would represent a real change over its predecessors, she said, both through addressing social and economic needs in addition to scientific and technological criteria, and in its organization.

It is just as important, Mrs. Hennicot-Schoepges emphasized, that the results of research are applied effectively, particularly in SMEs. The CRAFT initiative had been one important means of encouraging innovation in SMEs under the Fourth Framework Programme. Also, the Commission's Innovation Action Plan needs to be fully reflected in the Fifth Framework Programme by, for example, taking greater account of plans for the use of results in project selection.

The Minister concluded by acknowledging the successful work done under the BRITE/EURAM and SMT programmes, and stated that these programmes already addressed objectives such as industrial competitiveness and economic growth. The programmes, she continued, brought together participants from a wide range of fields and, as the projects were tested and demonstrated in an industrial environment, they could be rapidly implemented in concrete applications.

Source: European Commission, DG XIII

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