Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Fifth Report

Proposal to establish the European Institute of Technology

CHAPTER 1: Setting the Scene

1.  In the competitive global economy of the 21st century it is widely recognised that the Member States of the European Union can only maintain the strength of their economies through commercially successful technological innovation in both manufacturing and services. The EU has many universities and research centres of world class, but there is a broad consensus that there is a relative weakness, compared with global competitors, in the way in which research results in the EU are converted into successful business innovation.

2.  The proposed European Regulation[1] to establish the European Institute of Technology (EIT) is designed to address this weakness. The aim is that the establishment of the EIT would help to bridge the gap between the university, research and business communities and, as a result, would improve the EU's record in technological innovation in business. This, in turn, would support the EU's aims of promoting growth and employment.

3.  The Commission's early thinking about the EIT envisaged a major new technological institute which would have formed a focus for research into the application of technology in Europe, and would have had a campus environment in which students studied for EIT degrees. Following consultation, however, this controversial approach was fundamentally changed.

4.  It is now envisaged that the EIT will operate through the activities of a number of Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). These KICs would consist of partnerships between the private sector, research organisations and higher education institutions. The KICs would use state-of-the-art research networking and computing infrastructures in order to achieve their aims of integrating activities between participants in their partnerships. The EIT is envisaged as having a relatively small coordinating entity at the centre which incorporates an independent Governing Board with high level representation from academia and industry. The Board would set the strategic objectives of the EIT and would define the areas in which KICs would be established.

5.  After we had published our Interim Report[2] in April 2007 about the modified EIT proposal, a number of discussions were held about the views of Member States in Working Group meetings convened by the EU Presidency. As a result, further modifications were introduced to the proposal. We therefore invited Mr Malcolm Wicks MP—Minister of State for Science and Innovation at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)—to give us evidence about the latest form of the proposal. A transcript of the evidence that Mr Wicks gave us is printed with this Report, which also sets out our most recent conclusions and recommendations relating to the EIT proposal.

6.  Also printed with the Report is the written evidence we received subsequent to the publication of our Interim Report from: the organisation Universities UK (Appendix 1); the European Commission (Appendix 2); and the UK Government (Appendix 3).

7.  The Members of our Social Policy and Consumer Affairs Sub-Committee (Sub-Committee G) who conducted the Inquiry, showing their declared interests, are listed inside the front cover of the Report.

8.  We make this Report for the information of the House.

1   Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council-Establishing the European Institute of Technology (EIT), 10413/2/07 Rev 2 Brussels, 22.06.2007 Back

2   European Union Committee, 13th Report (2006-07): Proposal to Establish the European Institute of Technology: Interim Report (HL 69)  Back

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