Research and Innovation in the EU

The European research and innovation cooperation and the close connection between research, innovation and education play a decisive role in securing future growth. Therefore, the EU gives high priority to this area and allocates considerable funds annually to finance the research programmes.

During the Danish Presidency of the Council of the EU, there are two dossiers on the research- and innovation area that will dominate the work of the Council. Below you can read more about these matters and the EU’s policy in this area.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)

Commission has announced a proposal to change the current regulation establishing the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) before the end of 2011. The amendment will ensure the continuation of EIT as well as provide a connection to the forthcoming framework programme for research and innovation - Horizon 2020.

EIT has intensified the effort to integrate the three pillars of a knowledge society – education, research and innovation – by promoting new administration and financial models. EIT has created three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) within the fields of climate change, ICT and sustainable energy. The objective of the KICs is to gather the best creative and innovative global talent from research, business and academic communities to solve significant societal challenges. The current budget of EIT is EUR 308.7 million.

The EU framework programme for research and innovation – Horizon 2020

The current framework programme has a total approximate budget of EUR 50 billion from 2007 to 2013 and is the world’s largest framework research programme.

The Commission has proposed a reinforcement of the new Horizon 2020 programme and is paving the way for an increased budget of EUR 80 billion in the period 2014-2020. The Commission also proposes that Horizon 2020 should encompass innovation support and represent a collective framework for research and innovation. This is to ensure a closer connection between research and innovation with a view to translating new research results into marketable solutions and growth.

During the Danish EU Presidency, Denmark hopes to achieve agreement between Member States on the overall objective and structure of the programmes.

The overall aim of the EU’s research policy
The importance of enhanced European research cooperation and a closer link between research and innovation is emphasised in the EU2020 strategy, which is the EU’s long-term strategy for growth.

The strategy is followed up on by specific commitments in the flagship initiative Innovation Union. One of the initiatives aims to complete a European Research Area (ERA) by 2014. This involves removing barriers to researchers’ mobility and promoting cross-border cooperation, which will strengthen European research.

Implementing the EU’s research policy
The EU has a number of research programmes which give financial support to research and innovation projects:

  • The Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration known as FP7 is the EU’s primary instrument. The FP7 is the world’s largest research programme and has a total budget of EUR 53.3 billion over the period 2007-2013. 
  • The EU also has a programme that aims to strengthen competitiveness and innovation in the EU. (Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme - CIP). The CIP programme has a budget of EUR 3.6 billion in the period 2007-2013. 
  • Finally, the EU finances the European Institute of Innovation and Technology with a budget of EUR 300 million.

The financing for the programmes is to be renewed in 2013 and negotiations for the new seven-year programmes will begin during the Danish Presidency of the Council.

The development of the EU’s research agenda
The EU’s research policy has been part of European cooperation since 1951 and has developed in the course of the past 60 years:

  • The first treaties (the Coal and Steel Community and EURATOM) both included provisions for research - specifically focussed on energy research. 
  • Research and Innovation did not have a specific chapter in the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community in 1957, but one of its general articles allowed for research programmes to be established in priority areas - at the time this was particularly within the fields of energy and the environment.
  • In 1987, the Single European Act dedicated a chapter to research. The chapter merely put together a certain number of provisions that already existed, but politically and institutionally this was an important milestone. 
  • The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 introduced a joint decision-making process. The Council and the Parliament were now equal decision-makers with regard to the multi-year framework programmes. In addition, the Council’s decision was now determined by a qualified majority.
  • The Lisbon Treaty of 2010 established that the EU has an objective to strengthen its scientific and technology base by accomplishing a European research area with mobility of both researchers and scientific and technological knowledge, as well as promoting the development of its competitiveness, including competitiveness within industry.