Select Committee on European Scrutiny Fortieth Report



Communication from the Commission: More research for Europe, towards 3% of GDP

Legal base:
Document originated:13 September 2002
Deposited in Parliament: 27 September 2002
Department:HM Treasury
Basis of consideration: EM of 15 October
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: 15 November 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


  18.1  The Lisbon European Council of March 2000 called for the EU to become "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world" by 2010. In that context the Barcelona European Council of March 2002 set a target for EU expenditure on research and development (R&D) of 'approaching 3%' of GDP by 2010, compared with 1.9% in 2000.

The document

  18.2  The Commission's Communication is designed to stimulate debate on achieving this target. The Commission estimates that the annual gap between the EU and its foremost competitor, the USA, in expenditure on R&D is in excess of euro120 billion (about £73 billion)and that 80% of that gap is because of lower R&D investment by businesses in Europe.

  18.3  The Commission suggests three areas for action. The first is strengthening the framework for R&D, looking at matters including:

  • the availability of highly qualified people;
  • a strong public research base with good links to industry;
  • a dynamic R&D entrepreneurial culture;
  • effective system of intellectual property rights;
  • legislation conducive to research and innovation;
  • supportive financial markets; and
  • favourable fiscal conditions and macro-economic stability.

Secondly, the need for more effective public financing of private enterprise R&D is examined. And lastly the need to embed R&D in the business strategies of companies and ensure the effectiveness of such R&D is emphasised.

  18.4  The document includes a Commission staff working paper which makes a statistical and comparative analysis of R&D in Europe.

  18.5  The Commission notes that the variety of situations in Member States and candidate countries calls for differentiated policies. In the light of reaction to the document the Commission will consider proposing priorities in spring 2003.

The Government's view

  18.6  The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly) says the Government "believes it is important to focus on raising R&D spending in the EU, especially private R&D, as this is a key area of EU underperformance." She adds that the Commission's Communication is broadly welcome.


  18.7  Increasing and improving R&D in the EU is important and we welcome this contribution to the debate on how this might be achieved. We clear the document.

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