Innovation Policy: Boosting EU Competitiveness in a Global Economy

While globalisation has increased the prospects for many European businesses, open markets have also brought challenges as competition has increased.  In order to remain competitive, European firms are facing increased pressure to be more inventive so that they can react quickly to consumer demands, and respond to global challenges such as climate change and fluctuations in energy prices. 
Gunter Verheugen, Vice President and Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry noted in 2007 that the EU has the competitive disadvantages of not being a producer of raw materials and having a relatively expensive work force.  In order to remain competitive, he noted, the EU must enhance its position as a knowledge economy through innovation by facilitating technology transfer, creating a sustainable economy, and improving standards policy.  

EU policy for innovation is outlined in the 2006 communication “Putting knowledge into practice:  A broad based innovation strategy for the EU”.  The communication identifies the following 10 priority actions for how the EU can facilitate innovation.

10 EU Priority Actions to support Innovation:
1 Support Education
2 Establish a European Institute of Technology
3 Enhance Labour market for Researchers
4 Support University/Industry knowledge transfer
5 Improve Cohesion Policy for regional innovation
6 Increase State Aid for R&D
7 Improve Patent Strategy
8 Examine Legislation impacts on Digital Products
9 Encourage development in lead market technology
10 Enhance Procurement for innovative technologies

In addition, a 2007 communication entitled “Lead market Initiative for Europe” outlines the EU plan to lift obstacles to innovation in six markets:  eHealth, sustainable construction, bio-based products, protective textiles, recycling and renewable energy.  According to the Commission, as these markets are already highly innovative, supporting their growth and international expansion could give European producers a competitive advantage as lead producers (i.e. first mover advantage).

Despite the potential for growth in innovative industries, European producers face challenges in the form of different patent legislations, standards policy, and the lack of networks to facilitate technology transfer among firms. 
In light of the new challenges emerging in the sector, CEPS proposes to launch a new Task Force, which will address the effects of current innovation policy on EU competitiveness and potential avenues for reform.

The ultimate goal of the CEPS Task Force is to provide policymakers and field practitioners with an updated and independent view of current developments on EU innovation policy, while at the same time representing in an objective way the needs and problems identified by industry players and authoritative scholars in the field.

Chair: 
Maria Anvret, Senior Executive Scientific Expert and Advisor, Prof., PhD, FRCPath, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise
Rapporteurs: 
Andrea Renda, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS 
Massimiliano Granieri, Assistant Professor at the University of Foggia Law School

Meetings
1st meeting: 18 September 2009
2nd meeting: 6 November 2009
3rd meeting: 25 November 2009
4th meeting: 14 January 2010
5th meeting: 5 February 2010
6th meeting: 18 May 2010

Task Force Report published, available here.

Prospectus (incl. Registration form)