The new EUROPE 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth has singled out innovation as one of the key drivers that can get Europe out of the current crisis and also prepare its economy for the next decade.One of the ways to success outlined in the Europe 2020 Strategy is the modernisation and strengthening of the EU's industrial capability with innovation playing a central role in this revitalisation. The overall strategy has been prepared by the Commission following a public consultation, launched in November 2009 and builds on both the achievements of, and the lessons from, the Lisbon Strategy.
The Commission proposal on Europe 2020 was presented on 3 March 2010 and endorsed by the March European Council, although the Commission has to work out further details.
The Strategy identifies three overall growth priorities:
- Smart growth – developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
- Sustainable growth – promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy;
- Inclusive growth – fostering a high-employment economy delivering economic, social and territorial cohesion.
THEN FIVE TARGETS
The June European Council will take the final decisions on the Strategy, including the five targets it sets to be reached before 2020:
- 75 % of the population aged 20-64 should be employed;
- 3% of the EU's GDP should be invested in R&D;
- The "20/20/20" climate/energy targets should be met;
- The share of early school leavers should be under 10% and at least 40% of the younger generation should have a degree or diploma;
- 20 million less people should be at risk of poverty.
To strengthen Europes’ innovative muscle, it will be important that the combined public and private investment level in the Research and Development (R&D) sector is brought up to 3% of GDP. R&D spending in Europe is still below 2%, compared to 2.6% in the US and 3.4% in Japan, mainly as a result of the lower levels of private investment.
AND FINALLY SEVEN FLAGSHIP INIVIATIVES
In order to meet the targets, the Commission proposes a series of seven flagship initiatives in the EUROPE 2020 agenda. The seven flagship initiatives are: innovation, youth, the digital agenda, resource efficiency, industrial policy, skills and jobs and the fight against poverty. Implementation of these initiatives is a shared priority, and action will be required at all levels - EU, Member States, regional and local authorities.
Under the Innovation Union flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy, DG ENTR intends to support all forms of innovation. New instruments for financing innovation are being considered such as a pan-European venture capital fund, established in cooperation with the European Investment Fund. The plan may also include specific actions in support of the creative industries, notably the establishment of a European Creative Industries Alliance as a common umbrella for the many initiatives that currently exist to support creative industries and clusters across Europe.
Under the Digital Agenda flagship, a true single market for on-line content and services is also set to emerge, including borderless and safe EU web services and digital content markets and the management of intellectual property rights.
Member States are now to formulate concrete targets for the implementation of the Strategy with view to the final approval of their contributions at the EU summit in June 2010. The European Council will then, according to the plan, hold regular debates dedicated to economic development and the main priorities of the Strategy. A very special debate on research and development will take place in the European Council during October 2010 focusing on how to boost Europe's innovation potential. The European Commission will monitor the process and publish an annual report on the delivery of the Europe 2020 Strategy.