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Thursday, 12 May 2011 - Strasbourg Final edition
Innovation Union: transforming Europe for a post-crisis world
P7_TA(2011)0236A7-0162/2011

European Parliament resolution of 12 May 2011 on Innovation Union: transforming Europe for a post-crisis world (2010/2245(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 October 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative: Innovation Union’ (COM(2010)0546),

–  having regard to Article 179(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), according to which ‘(1) the Union shall have the objective of strengthening its scientific and technological bases by achieving a European research area in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely, and encourage it to become more competitive, including in its industry, while promoting all the research activities deemed necessary by virtue of other Chapters of the Treaties’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on European Innovation Partnerships within the Innovation Union flagship initiative(1) ,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 January 2011 entitled ‘A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy’ (COM(2011)0021),

   having regard to the Commission communication of 19 May 2010 entitled ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ (COM(2010)0245),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2011 on an industrial policy for the globalised era(2) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2010 on Community innovation policy in a changing world(3) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 June 2010 on EU 2020(4) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on simplifying the implementation of the Research Framework Programmes(5) ,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 4 February 2011 on innovation,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the 3049th meeting of the Competitiveness Council of 25 and 26 November 2010 on Innovation Union for Europe,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the 3035th meeting of the Competitiveness Council of 12 October 2010 on ‘raising the attractiveness of EU Research and Innovation programmes: the challenge of simplification’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 October 2010 entitled ‘An Integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era: Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Centre Stage’ (COM(2010)0614),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 October 2010 entitled ‘Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020’ (COM(2010)0553),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 September 2009 entitled ‘Preparing for our future: developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU’ (COM(2009)0512),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 March 2009 entitled ‘A Strategy for ICT R&D and Innovation in Europe: Raising the Game’ (COM(2009)0116),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper entitled ‘Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 February 2011 entitled ‘A review of the ’'Small Business Act'' for Europe' (COM(2011)0078),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 February 2007 entitled ‘Scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation’ (COM(2007)0056),

   having regard to the report ‘Promoting innovative Business Models with Environmental Benefits’ of November 2008 conducted on behalf of the European Commission,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0162/2011),

A.  whereas, under Article 179(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Union shall ‘encourage undertakings, including small and medium-sized undertakings, research centres and universities in their research and technological development activities of high quality; it shall support their efforts to cooperate with one another, aiming, notably, at permitting researchers to cooperate freely across borders and at enabling undertakings to exploit the internal market potential to the full, in particular through the opening-up of national public contracts, the definition of common standards and the removal of legal and fiscal obstacles to that cooperation’,

B.  whereas accelerating research and innovation is not only essential in order to attain a sustainable and competitive economic model and secure future employment, but will also generate solutions to the shared grand societal challenges facing European society, namely:

   the current demographic changes: an ageing society, growing world population (nutrition, health, disease prevention), urbanisation, social cohesion and migration;
   the transition to sustainable management of resources (biological and non-biological): climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency, resource efficiency, water scarcity, floods and efforts to secure and substitute critical raw materials;
   a strong, stable, equitable and competitive economic base: economic recovery, harnessing a knowledge-based society, and boosting the EU's competitiveness and employment,

C.  whereas the key to boosting innovation lies in:

   putting first the citizens' creativity and human capital, the adaptability of businesses and entrepreneurship, consumption patterns and response to new ideas,
   long-term, stable, simple, transparent and supportive regulatory framework,
   better access to diversified finance possibilities at the different stages of the innovation cycle (in particular for SMEs),
   leveraging and stimulating investments from the private sector,
   fruitful cooperation between education and research institutes, including research and technology organisations (RTOs), businesses, governments and citizens, also by establishing collaborative platforms and tools such as open networks, open standards, clusters approaches for sharing knowledge and ideas,
   ensuring involvement of all relevant actors in the decision-making processes,
   providing more effective tools to safeguard industrial property in a context of globalisation and digitalisation of the economy,

D.  whereas a willingness to take risks is a necessary prerequisite to successful innovation,

E.  whereas in order to maintain European competitiveness a shift in culture is needed to improve European entrepreneurship and the potential for innovation; whereas changes need to be made to commend risk seeking and improve conditions for start-up innovative enterprises and entrepreneurs,

F.  whereas in the view of the economic global context the European Union must take an offensive stance and take a firm front runner position in competitiveness, the EU must therefore invest in an innovation blast,

G.  whereas Europe needs a modern, affordable and well functioning system of intellectual property rights protection in order to promote innovation and strengthen our competitiveness,

H.  whereas IPR constitute a major prerequisite for capital-intensive research, development and innovation,

I.  whereas the biggest opportunity to strengthen innovation in Europe with respect to intellectual property rights is the creation of the EU patent,

J.  whereas a modern Union trademark system is essential in order to protect the values represented by investments made by European companies in design, creation and innovation,

K.  whereas earmarking 3 % of the EU's GDP for research and development up to 2020 could create 3,7 million jobs and annual GDP could grow by some EUR 800 million up to 2025,

L.  whereas a mere 30 % of European researchers are women and only 13 % of heads of European research institutes are women,

An integrated and interdisciplinary approach

1.  Welcomes the Innovation Union flagship initiative, which is the most significant and targeted community attempt so far to introduce a strategic, integrated and business-oriented European innovation policy to supplement member state efforts, whereby innovation is steered and progress monitored at the highest political level, whose success though depends on the full cooperation of and its implementation by the Member States, including through their financial support and smart fiscal consolidation, prioritizing sustainable growth-friendly expenditure in areas such as innovation, research and education, whereby the common innovation objectives steer their policies in all relevant areas; welcomes the strategic approach of the European Council at its meeting on the 4th of February 2011;

2.  Supports the Innovation Union initiative as a key pillar of economic, social and cultural development in the EU, particularly as regards inclusive education at all levels, including Vocational Education and Training;

3.  Calls for a broad concept of innovation that focuses on impact and goes beyond technological and product-oriented innovation, involves all stakeholders, in particular the enterprises, and highlights the various enabling roles of citizens, while realising a mindset change; recalls that innovation is applying ideas successfully in practice and targets products, processes, services, movements, systems and organisational structures; suggests that the Commission brings forward a definition of innovation;

4.  Considers that innovation, in all fields of knowledge and of economic and social activity, must be guided by the criteria of public interest, improvement of quality of life, promotion of social wellbeing and preservation of the environment and the balance of nature;

5.  Takes the view that, since innovation is a complex concept, non-technological innovation efforts need to be strengthened, and that in this context best practices regarding this kind of innovation should be spread and rules and conditions governing access to EU financing should be specified on the basis of an open and all-embracing approach;

6.  Calls for a clear distinction to be made between ‘original innovation’, meaning something made for the first time and not available on the market, from commercial improvements or alterations made to a product, service, process or movements already present on the market;

7.  Takes the view that socio-economic innovation needs to be precisely but flexibly defined, because in many cases it does not take the form of a product or the application of a technical solution but of a series of interconnected, long-term institutional, technical and management changes that constitute a process;

8.  Points out that the targets as set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Energy Efficiency Plan 2020, the Resource- Efficient Europe Initiative, the Raw Materials Initiative, the Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020, setting the milestone towards the Energy 2050 Roadmap and the Roadmap for a Low Carbon Economy by 2050, must be given priority in the Innovation Union;

9.  Points out that internationalisation and innovation are key drivers of external competitiveness and growth and are crucial to the EU 2020 strategic goals;

10.  Underlines the importance of climate and energy-efficient and renewable technologies in the shift towards a sustainable global economy; recognises the lead position of the EU in many key sectors for climate-friendly and resource-efficient industrial production; calls on the Commission to define strategies on internationalisation and innovation in these sectors;

11.  Recognizes that the fight against climate change and efforts towards energy efficiency and the de-materialization of industrial production require an active policy on the global dissemination of new technologies;

12.  Emphasises that the areas of the protection of the environment, public health and food safety as well as the fight against climate change are among those most in need of an enhanced innovation effort involving a reinforcement of the existing scientific and technological base; stresses that the EU's future research and innovation programmes will need to take those areas into account in appropriate fashion; to this end, underlines the need to adopt a cross-sectoral approach based on ecosystem resilience;

13.  Notes that market fragmentation in the cultural and creative sectors is in part due to the cultural diversity and language preferences of consumers;

14.  Welcomes the Commission's focus on grand societal challenges, and stresses that innovation and research are needed in order to increase resource productivity, sustainable use and substitution while simultaneously finding new ways of increasing the efficiency of resource and energy consumption;

15.  Notes that restricting the prioritisation of innovations to limited areas should be avoided in order not to lose valuable innovative potential in the long term;

16.  Takes the view that innovation can play an important role in enhancing social cohesion by improving the quality of the services provided, and that specific professional training programmes should therefore be set up;

17.  Points out that, in a market economy, innovation is not exclusively intended to meet major societal challenges but also plays a particularly important role in the manufacture of consumer-friendly and attractive products in the fields of leisure, technology, industry, culture and entertainment; points out that there is a vast international market for innovative high-tech leisure products (smart phones, tablet PCs, console games, portable recreational devices etc.), as well as a world market for social networking and innovative online services, in which European undertakings are playing a negligible role;

18.  Stresses the importance of the Resource-Efficient Europe and Industrial Policy flagship initiatives and of efforts to decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources, by supporting the shift towards a sustainable low-carbon, knowledge-based economy, increasing the use of renewable and sustainable energy sources, developing carbon reducing and more resource efficient technologies and sustainable transport, enhancing at the same time the competitiveness of the European companies;

19.  Recalls that the digital world and ICTs are engines of innovation and therefore access to high speed broadband is an essential pre-condition, also for all European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs), as it enhances cooperation and participation by the citizens; in this regard, calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their implementation of high-speed internet as well as the promotion of e-initiatives ensuring the rapid execution of the EU's Digital Agenda;

20.  Calls the Commission to give due consideration to the technologies that underpin the ‘smarter’, sustainable systems which enable firms to develop responsive real time services in sectors as diverse as transport and logistics, construction and facilities management, energy distribution, telecommunications and financial services;

21.  Emphasises that the success of innovation and research policy is dependent upon:

   strategic orientation, development, design and implementation of all policies and measures, with the aim of contributing to and enhancing innovation in Europe (through, for example, education and training, advisory services, the labour market, the single market, proper management of intellectual property rights, infrastructure, taxation instruments, industrial policy, procurement and trade, joint innovative interactions between service and manufacturing companies, with a special focus on SMEs);
   well-coordinated multidisciplinary cooperation and (financial) support at EU, Member State, regional and local level;
   maximum involvement of all relevant players, e.g. SMEs, industry, universities, research institutes, RTOs, governments, civil society organisations and social partners, including potential new, productive forms of cooperation between knowledge institutions and industry;
   coordination, coherence and synergy among the different policy areas, actions and instruments, so as to prevent fragmentation and duplication arising from uncoordinated research and innovation efforts;
   shaping a positive regulatory environment for innovation products in order to adapt to market needs;
   policy evaluation methodologies and processes, including peer review panels and dissemination of successful experiments;
Stresses that the main goal of the Innovation Union policy should be to facilitate coordination of policies and coherence among their different instruments and create synergies in regard to innovation policy by adopting a truly holistic approach focused on the grand societal challenges;

22.  Stresses the need to transform the EU's trade and innovation policy into a true vehicle for job creation, the eradication of poverty and sustainable development worldwide; firmly believes that consistency between the internal and external aspects of EU policies is indispensable and that the shaping of a new trade policy must be consistent with a strong, job-creating industrial and innovation policy in order to ensure economic growth and in turn to create more and better jobs;

23.  Stresses the relation of the Innovation Union flagship initiative with the Annual Growth Survey as a crucial tool for enhanced cooperation, showing the annual progress in the Member States;

24.  Calls on the Commission to develop an integrated indicator system, taking into account the diversity of the existing economic systems in the Member States and involving enterprises in order to allow better monitoring and assessment of progress and the measurable impact of innovation policies and programmes; calls for the creation of reliable data infrastructures that aid in monitoring developments in research funding and urges further development of the ‘scoreboard’ by means of international cooperation, and by way of a more indicator-and-evidence-based system which measures EU innovation capacity in absolute terms while intelligently using available resources;

25.  Points out that innovation and creativity are processes which, to a certain degree, can be cultivated, taught and enhanced; urges, therefore, that innovation and creativity be included to a greater degree in the educational systems of the EU Member States; calls for the recognition and dissemination of best practices regarding creative and innovative educational curricula and instructional methods used by the Member States;

26.  Stresses the crucial role that eco-innovation will play in meeting EU's 2020 targets; calls therefore for the adoption of an ambitious Eco-innovation Action Plan proposing measures to introduce eco-innovation at all steps of the value chain, including design and increasing funds for initiatives in this field through the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme;

27.  Believes that, given that innovation is usually closely linked to the market and develops through non-formal channels, the EU should fine-tune its innovation evaluation methods to reflect the fact that the same criteria cannot be used to assess every area;

28.  Stresses the danger of the term ‘innovation’ becoming a well-worn cliché that breeds complacency simply through repeated use; innovation alone is not a panacea for coping with every problem and cannot be conjured up at will in times of economic and social crisis. On the contrary, it must be a constant endeavour in the public and private sector and be actively supported by means of cohesive educational, research, industrial, social and environmental strategies on the part of the EU and its Member States;

29.  Recognises the importance of cultural and creative industries in the context of innovation, given that studies prove that firms that make proportionately greater use of services of the cultural and creative industries perform significantly better on innovation;

30.  Affirms the principle of net neutrality and of open standards as drivers of innovation;

Citizen-centred Innovation Society

31.  Stresses that citizens' demands and active engagement of businesses are the key drivers of innovation; points out that the creation of an innovative society must therefore be based on the participation of its citizens, by enabling them to articulate their needs and their creative potential through a bottom-up approach and by providing innovative solutions enabling individual citizens to contribute to resource efficiency;

32.  Highlights the need to create a culture of learning, curiosity and risk-taking; calls therefore upon the Commission and the Member States to put serious effort into bringing about a change of mindset towards innovative and curiosity-driven thinking and risk-taking, and a more permissive attitude towards failure, by encouraging sustainable consumer patterns and actively promoting citizens' and businesses' engagement in innovation and an open-innovation system; emphasises that innovation is a process that neither can nor should be steered completely by governments and needs favourable conditions that allow for sufficient flexibility to support unforeseen developments;

33.  Considers that the advance of knowledge and its multiple applications do not eliminate the need for an open and participatory evaluation of the ethical, social and political implications of those applications; draws attention to the need to promote and disseminate scientific culture among the general public;

34.  Considers that steps should be taken to support initiatives aimed at promoting scientific dialogue and the dissemination of findings among the widest possible public, in addition to the scientific community, increasing the role of civil society in research;

35.  Considers that priority should be given to fostering the development at regional level of an innovation culture, both among entrepreneurs, young people undergoing vocational training and workers, and among the partners who have an influence on business activities, such as regional public decision-makers, research centres, business clusters and funding bodies, which in many cases are not sufficiently aware of the innovation capacities of the firms in their regions, in particular the SMEs (including micro-enterprises and craft firms);

36.  Stresses that a proper understanding of scientific progress and what it entails is essential if the public are to be involved in the innovation effort; calls for the dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge to be stepped up; stresses the importance of both lifelong learning and measures specifically targeted at population groups that have less easy access to science and technology, in particular rural communities;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote the development of sustainable economic models based on innovation and creativity which create and protect highly qualified jobs in Europe;

38.  Highlights the importance of a bottom-up approach to innovation and the promotion of an open environment for creative ideas, so as to spur productivity growth, empower employees and develop solutions for unmet social needs (such as inclusion and immigration);

39.  Calls to complement the current up-front financing with new financing mechanism such as award competitions or inducement prizes for European innovators (individuals or teams) to encourage ideas and reward inventions, for instance in socially valuable fields whereby knowledge is created as public good; invites the Commission to consider whether a first pilot of an award system within the pilot European Innovation Partnership on healthy ageing is appropriate;

40.  Stresses that social innovation is about new and effective solutions to pressing social needs, created by individuals or organisations with a social, and not necessarily a commercial imperative; further stresses that social innovation provides an opportunity for citizens, in any role, to enhance their working and life environment and thus could help strengthen the European social model;

41.  Emphasises the role played by the social economy sector (cooperatives, mutual societies, associations and foundations) in social innovation by devising and implementing the means to meet needs which are not taken into account by the market and by the conventional forms of entrepreneurship;

42.  Considers that the EU Innovation strategy should unleash the potential of employees by allowing also non-academic employees to be part of and participate in different kinds of EU schemes and innovation-projects;

43.  Points out that the Innovation Union strategy must recognise the importance of ideas, suggestions and competencies of ordinary employees when it comes to innovation. Several studies point to the fact that employee-driven innovation is not only good for business but also job satisfaction and – if performed in the right way – something that may actually reduce stress;

44.  Calls on the EU, national and regional and local authorities to launch the pilot project and promote research on social innovation and to provide public funds in support of it as well as public-private partnerships, that could serve as basis for the future activities in this field; stresses that social innovation should be included in funding and support programmes such as the European Social Fund, the Framework Programmes (FPs) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP);

45.  Stresses the importance of research in the medical sector, which, combined with innovative applications, will foster growth and well-being in an ageing society; supports close co-operation between university research departments and the medical industry in order to generate products and services that citizens in the EU will urgently need over the next decade;

46.  Calls on the Commission to leverage the resources of the Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding to ensure the sustainable implementation of biological and medical science research infrastructure as a public R&D service, oriented towards a better quality of life of the citizens, which is a way to make progress towards a knowledge-based society that can face the societal challenges in Europe;

47.  Considers that a greater emphasis on innovation policy represents an opportunity for the modernisation and reinforcement of public services in both existing and emerging fields, in a whole range of areas of economic and social life, thus boosting quality and efficiency, job creation, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, and economic, social and territorial cohesion;

48.  Considers that closer coordination of STI efforts should not imply disinvestment or underinvestment in the scientific capacity of certain Member States or regions to the detriment of others; believes that, rather, it should entail investment in developing a sound and consistent STI base in the different countries and regions, in line with their characteristics and levels of development, with a view to promoting beneficial synergies and fruitful cooperation;

49.  Stresses the importance of modernising the educational system; calls on the Member States to take action to improve the entrepreneurial and quantitative skills and training of (young) Europeans by incorporating entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation into all areas of education and improving human capital which enables them to play an active role in innovation, such as through the Commission's ‘Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs’ programme, while safeguarding craft trades as a source of innovation;

50.  Calls on the Commission to work more closely with the Member States in order to draw up medium- and long-term forecasts regarding the skills required by the employment market, and to encourage partnerships between universities and the business sector in order to foster the transition of young people to the employment market while helping to create an innovative, knowledge-based society, develop applied research and create better employment market prospects for graduates;

51.  Notes that in times of crisis, it is essential to attract young people to the new types of jobs available and to ensure that skill programmes promote access to the labour market for young people, with a view to enabling them to make the most of their job potential, combating high unemployment among people under the age of 25 years and capitalising on the younger generation's skills in using new technologies;

52.  Calls for efforts to overcome skill shortages in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; stresses the importance of enhancing the quality of training, improving access to lifelong learning and vocational training, promoting continuous training for employees, and making arrangements for access to, and the organisation of, such training which are inclusive and do not discriminate against women; takes the view, however, that these measures should be aimed primarily at workers assigned to less skilled work than was previously the case, who are at risk of losing their jobs as a result of the introduction of new technologies, and at those made redundant because they lack the skills necessitated by restructuring and conversion; recalls also the need to develop all training activities, at all levels of training, more fully in order to enhance creativity, innovativeness and entrepreneurship;

53.  Stresses the importance of raising the level of lifelong learning and of developing training activities for all in order to enhance eco-innovativeness and entrepreneurship and ensure that the workforce can adjust its skills to the labour market needs of a more sustainable economy founded on competence-based training concepts; calls on the Member States, employers and employees to recognise skills management, training and lifelong learning for innovation as a shared responsibility, as acknowledged in the social partners' 2002 framework agreement on lifelong learning;

54.  Points out that, given the shortage of higher education students in the fields of science and technology, steps must be taken to ensure that no students abandon their studies or are limited in their choice of educational establishment for financial reasons, and that it is therefore necessary to continue to promote access to bank loans which can be partially financed by the Member States;

55.  Underlines the need to detect sleeping innovators, in particular among SMEs; points to the important role of intermediate organisations in detecting sleeping innovators, providing incentives, giving advice and supporting innovation; takes the view that these organisations should be strengthened, that a programme aimed at improving training, qualifications and expertise should be developed for them, and that in the future the importance of models for dual-purpose training courses for two professions should increase;

56.  Reiterates the importance of acquiring a core of basic competences and a good level of general culture in order to ensure better adaptability to the working environment; stresses that, in this context, language learning is of particular importance;

57.  Calls on the Member States to create clusters and conditions in which innovation is accelerated and to support the development of stronger partnerships between educational institutions and the business world, both nationally and internationally, while also considering the needs of businesses when developing the curricula;

58.  Considers that it is essential to establish programmes specifically to promote scientific and technological culture as part of the measures to promote innovation in all areas;

59.  Supports the proposal of the Committee of the Regions for the creation of a ‘virtual creativity network’ that would be open to all (businesses, local and regional authorities, central public authorities, the private sector and citizens) and would provide advice, assistance and access to venture capital and technical services; stresses that a virtual network offers the additional advantage of giving the inhabitants of islands, outlying regions, rural areas, mountain areas and sparsely populated areas easier access to expert advice, education and information, business support and financial guidance;

60.  Welcomes the Commission to make strong progress in improving career prospects for researchers and increasing their mobility between research sectors and across national borders. This would help ensure an adequate supply of researchers and enhance the quality of EU research and innovation. Researchers across the EU should be able to benefit from the right training, attractive career conditions and the removal of barriers to mobility;

61.  Notes that social innovation is a Human Capital challenge where Universities must play an enhanced role through education, life-long training, research, innovation and entrepreneurship; highlights the importance of more open and modernised Universities and the need for greater University autonomy in defining strategic priorities and own course of action in response to societal priorities;

62.  Stresses, in order to ensure greater integration of the components of the knowledge triangle, the need to promote policies to strengthen cooperation between education systems and the business world in the development of new curricula and doctoral programmes;

63.  Calls the Commission to create an ‘Open Innovation’ digital platform where European-wide policy problems can be posted, and ideas and solutions can be put forward by citizens and stakeholders across Europe;

64.  Notes an existing skills gap in Universities in what concerns an improved and proactive interaction with the business sector; calls on the Commission to launch a new European-wide programme for training and education of University managers, of technology transfer officers, and of technology broker professionals and to issue guidelines for the professionalization of such careers in Universities;

Simplification, defragmentation, financing and standardisation

65.  Stresses that important opportunity costs are associated with more traditional EU expenditure sectors and points to the need to align strategic EU2020 priorities with budgetary policy; therefore calls for a greater share of the EU budget to be allocated to R&D and innovation;

66.  Highlights the comparative small size of the EU R&D&I budget as compared to Member States' budgets which account for the majority of public research funding; therefore, calls for a greater emphasis on funding instruments with a leveraging effect on national research expenditure, on private investment, and on EIB funding, to promote coordination of efforts and to stimulate investment up to European target goals;

67.  Calls on the Commission to combine existing aid schemes and supporting structures in order to move towards a simple and accessible system to accelerate innovation, to focus on the grand societal challenges and actively to prevent fragmentation and bureaucracy;

68.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the existing aid schemes and support structures and to set up a ‘one-stop shop’ in cooperation with the Member States, that is, a service counter where all stakeholders (especially innovative SMEs) – including local and regional government – can obtain information and apply for financial support or be linked up with potential partners;

69.  Stresses the need to support SMEs from the first stage of innovation until the end, so that they are able to innovate and can participate in European Support Programmes;

70.  Is in favour of cluster internationalisation strategies geared to establishing proper support and guidance systems for SMEs;

71.  Stresses the need for European clusters to raise their profiles and be more effective in putting across their successes and their results; takes the view that a service platform should be set up for innovative SMEs in the form of a cluster link bringing together various clusters and technology parks in Europe and around the world (for example, in the Mediterranean area);

72.  Stresses that R&D investment tends to drop in periods of economic crisis, even though it has been proved that those companies and Member States that invest the most during such periods are the ones that gain the greatest comparative market advantage;

73.  Calls on the Commission to introduce a single policy framework for supporting and financing innovation with uniform rules, to create synergies and merge Research & Development & Innovation (R&D&I) support programmes, where possible, and to support innovation, by directing more funds to innovation and by encouraging more involvement of the financial sector; recalls on the Members States to respect their commitment to devote ETS revenues to finance climate related action, including innovation projects;

74.  Calls on the Commission to consider multi-fund programmes for Member States and regions that want to use them; considers that it would contribute to working in a more integrated and flexible manner and would increase the effectiveness of interaction between the different funds (Structural Funds and the Framework Programmes for Research and Development);

75.  Joins the Council in calling for a better balance between trust and control, and between risk-taking and risk avoidance, acknowledging that innovation and research are high-risk activities with no guaranteed results;

76.  Draws attention to the fact that those participating in the innovation process have to deal with different procedures and eligibility criteria both in the various European programmes and between the latter and national programmes; this results in red tape, high costs and a waste of time and opportunities; calls for a joint commitment on the part of the Commission and the Member States to implement a simplification and convergence process in respect of the selection procedures and eligibility criteria used in the European Research and Innovation area;

77.  Asks the European Commission to present to the European Parliament an external evaluation about the innovation instruments created inside the Seventh Framework Programme like Technological Platforms and JTIs where the evaluation should include activities, calls, innovation projects and results (if they exist) and the economic contribution from public and private funds;

78.  Reiterates the need for a significant increase in R&D&I investment, both private and public, in order that EU industry remains a technology leader and retain global competitiveness in areas such as transport and energy efficiency; furthermore, an increased public funding of R&D&I is necessary in order to leverage private investment;

79.  Calls for the future framework programme to foster optimum use of research findings by linking them to the innovation process through the extension of the scope of project funding to include the demonstration and prototype stages;

80.  Stresses the importance of better assistance in the implementation of policies and programmes that enhance synergy within the research and development infrastructures - innovation - job creation chain;

81.  Administrative and financial simplification of public funding procedures, especially in the EU Framework Programmes, is a prerequisite for stability, legal certainty for the participants and consequently, increased industry participation;

82.  Reiterates that Framework Programmes should continue to support collaborative research in industry, as this leverages industrial funds and has a positive influence on creating productive innovation in the single market;

83.  Urges maintaining a strong base of excellence in basic research, building on the success of the European Research Council and maintain a strong base for applied scientific research and innovation, by creating a ERC-style agency for applied research and innovation, merging existing structures as appropriate;

84.  Believes that innovation and creativity are key to the economic recovery of the Union and that the importance of converting the Union's scientific and technological breakthroughs into new goods and services should not be underestimated;

85.  Recalls that innovation is applying ideas successfully in practice and highlights the fundamental link between innovation and the marketplace; therefore, proper financial instruments should be available to accelerate the introduction of successful technologies, services or processes on the EU market, particularly those addressing the grand societal challenges;

86.  Takes the view that the commercial exploitation of research findings in the EU is inadequate or too slow, and recommends establishing business incubators which actively seek innovations and are in contact with higher education and research establishments, and whose task is to promote the commercial exploitation of research findings, for example through enterprise contacts or by helping to find ‘business angels’ or seed capital for starting new businesses;

87.  Stresses the need, in order to stimulate demand and the market for innovative products, to promote innovation by creating new market opportunities;

88.  Calls upon the Commission and Member States to define and implement policy frameworks aimed at stimulating rapid access for users to valuable innovations across the EU, ensuring that newly-found innovations can actually reach potential end-users within reasonable timeframes;

89.  Underlines the importance of differentiating between innovation and research; points out that innovation is a complex cross-cutting socio-economic process, which involves efforts to increase spending on R&D and support for SMEs and for high-tech activities, and focuses on developing integrated systems based on the characteristics and specificities of the different territories;

90.  Calls on the Commission to link funding instruments more closely to demand-side innovation tools and to direct this support in greater extent to SMEs and start-up companies in need of early access to EU- or international markets; considers it therefore necessary to approve clear and specific ‘Rules of Participation’ containing measures to increase the participation by small and micro enterprises;

91.  Stresses the importance of doctoral programmes for European innovation and proposes developing a European framework for doctoral programmes which encourages lifelong learning and involves businesses in supporting, promoting and using the results of research; calls on the Member States to eliminate any legislative or administrative obstacles which might limit the access of interested parties to doctoral programmes;

92.  Calls on the Commission to consider multi-fund programmes for Member States and regions that want to use them; considers that it would contribute to work in a more integrated and flexible manner and would increase the effectiveness between the different funds (Structural Funds and the Framework Programmes for Research and Development);

93.  Stresses the need to support a composite financial architecture, as well as the development of new financial mechanisms, also combining automatic instruments with grant-based instruments in order to foster investments needed to reach strategic R&D goals;

94.  Welcomes the Commission proposal for the release by 2014 of appropriations to help increase and enhance the private funding necessary to promote innovation in Europe;

95.  Recommends a change of the EIB mandate to allow for financing of risk-intensive close-to-the-market research and innovation; in this light, urges the Commission to expand the EIB's successful Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) by:

   increasing the risk-guarantee factor,
   stepping up the available guarantees and loans for private companies or public institutions with a higher financial risk profile for their R&D&I activities,
   providing an additional EUR 500 million in 2011, increasing current funding from EUR 1 billion to EUR 5 billion after 2013, and
   diversifying the type of risk-sharing structures, in order to provide better access to finance for enterprises – in particular SMEs;

96.  Takes the view that a European innovation financing fund should be set up to boost investment in innovative SMEs through risk sharing involving the harnessing of private resources;

97.  Welcomes the Commission proposal to define specific investments addressed to innovative start-ups;

98.  Calls on the Commission to move a greater proportion of close-to-the-market research, including demonstration projects, to debt and equity instruments in the future framework programmes, that could leverage more private capital, such as the CIP, the RSFF, and the EIF, and to ensure Europe-wide access for SMEs thereto; emphasizes the need to close the financing gaps for (cross-border) start-up firms;

99.  Stresses that better understanding of the specificities associated with company size, development, stage and activity sector are required when designing funding instruments; calls for urgent action to tackle major bottlenecks at the initial stages of innovation by improving access to seed funding, angel funding and more equity and quasi-equity financing both at EU level but also regional and local level;

100.  Stresses that the development potential of venture capital in the EU is far from having been realised due to differences in national rules and tax arrangements; welcomes the Commission proposal to ensure that by 2012, Venture Capital funds established in any Member State can function and invest freely in the EU creating therefore a true ‘EU Venture Capital Single Market’;

101.  Calls for the further development of instruments and mechanisms for improving SMEs access to research and innovation services (such as innovation vouchers) and other knowledge-based business services (modelling, risk assessment, etc.) that are crucial for SMEs to innovate and bring innovative solution to the market;

102.  Highlights the business and eco-efficiency benefits of product-service systems and function-oriented business models and calls on the Commission to develop a strategy in this field;

103.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to re-evaluate the whole system of innovation with a view to removing unnecessary financial and administrative barriers, for example:

   to access to loans and other financial support opportunities and instruments for universities and RTOs,
   to develop technology transfer activities based on intellectual property valorisation;

104.  Regrets that innovation protocols are subjected to long bureaucratic approval processes that slow down innovation, limit the competitiveness of the EU market and stop the development of scientific knowledge in the medical community, thus deferring the benefits to patients;

105.  Stresses the importance of giving priority to revising the clinical trials directive in dialogue with researchers, with the aim of ensuring an improved regulatory framework for developing medicinal products and comparing alternative treatments with medicinal products in clinical research (as stated in the Council Conclusions on Innovation and Solidarity in Pharmaceuticals adopted in Brussels on 6 December 2010);

106.  Stresses the great importance of using new knowledge to create new and better ways to prevent, find and treat cancer and to promote rapid mechanisms to make those discoveries available to patients;

107.  Highlights the importance of innovation in the Knowledge Triangle and calls on the need to develop a culture of innovation into the financial perspective and the post-2013 perspectives;

108.  Invites the Member States, in close cooperation with the regions, to make the best possible use of the Structural Funds for R&D&I in the current financing period while targeting the grand societal challenges, striving towards achieving cohesion in innovation and research and aligning the Structural Funds priorities with the EU2020 objectives; calls on the Commission and the Member States to avoid costly duplication by promoting smart and better targeted specialisation strategies; considers that regions should be incentivised to promote this architecture of European specialisation;

109.  Highlights that cohesion funds earmarked for innovation go to large extent unspent due to unsuitable administrative requirements and to the need for matching funds unavailable at times of financial constraint; notes that this fact contributes to the widening economic gap among Member States, which lies at the core of the present Euro area crisis; calls for reform and streamlining of structural funds, to make them accessible for the restructuring of the economic actors involved, especially SMEs;

110.  Believes that the setting of benchmarks and standards have proven to be strong drivers for promoting innovation and sustainable competitiveness in several industrial sectors; Joins the Council in inviting the Commission to make proposals to accelerate, simplify, reduce the costs and modernise standardisation procedures through greater transparency and involvement of stakeholders, thus generating a quicker European response to innovative global market developments; ask the Commission to seriously consider successful innovative mechanisms such as the establishment of open standards integrating stakeholders along the value-chain;

111.  Points out that standardisation can increase innovation and competitiveness by facilitating access to markets and by enabling interoperability; encourages the Commission to step up efforts to promote the inclusion of European standards, particularly in the social and environmental fields, in future free trade agreements;

112.  Stresses therefore that all strategies in relation to transforming Europe for a post-crisis world need to be guided by sustainable job creation;

113.  Urges the European Commission to follow the recommendation of the Interim Evaluation of the Seventh Framework Programme (Expert Group) when it asks for a moratorium on new instruments that should be considered until the existing ones have been sufficiently developed and adequately evaluated; therefore, calls for special precaution to be taken in order to avoid confusion due to the proliferation of instruments;

114.  Asks the Commission to present to Parliament an external evaluation of the innovation instruments created under the Seventh Framework Programme, such as, for example, technological platforms and JETIs (Joint European Technology Initiatives), and considers that the evaluation should cover activities, calls for proposals, innovation projects, results (if any) and the economic contribution from public and private funds.

115.  Calls on the Commission, in the light of the 2020 funding target for research and technological development amounting to 3 % of GDP and recognising that research and innovation are the only sure means of achieving economic recovery in the EU, to consider the possibility of establishing for the Member States an interim binding minimum level of funding for research and technological development amounting to around 1 % of GDP up to 2015;

116.  Draws attention to the fact that innovation is essential to economic development and that the European Union needs to recruit around one million additional researchers in order to meet the goal of spending 3 % of GDP on R&D, as laid down in the Europe 2020 Strategy; believes that this goal can be more easily achieved by substantially increasing the number of women researchers, who account for only 39 % of researchers employed in the public sector and higher education, and 19 % of researchers working in the private sector(6) ;

117.  Supports the objective of increasing the number of researchers in the EU by one million by 2020, and observes that such an enormous investment would have significant multiplier effects on employment, but at the same time maintains that this is a very ambitious goal which would require objectives to be set for each individual country and purposeful efforts to be made; notes that the public sector does not necessarily have sufficient funds to do this, so that although there is a strong need to increase the number of posts for researchers at higher education establishments and public research institutes, most of the new researchers will be employed in the private sector; points out that attention should be focused less on the number of researchers than their innovativeness, the quality of their education, the European division of labour in the field of research, resources for research and the quality of research;

118.  Welcomes the Commission's support for open and collaborative innovation which will bring long-term social and economic benefits; approves in this context the commitment of the Commission to the dissemination, transfer and use of research results, including open access to publications and data from publicly funded research; encourages the Commission to find the necessary means to achieve these aims, and emphasises the role that Europeana can play in this field;

Single market and intellectual property

119.  Stresses that the European single market must be completed for all goods and services as a matter of urgency, including innovative health products, thus providing access to 500 million consumers; reiterates that one great challenge for the European single market is fragmentation of laws and validation processes;

120.  Stresses that in some sectors, such as that of health, the results of research have fed into innovation whenever science has allowed, and therefore considers that the Commission's pessimism with regard to innovation is in many cases unjustified;

121.  Emphasises that current licensing practices contribute to the fragmentation of the EU internal market; notes that although progress has been made, consumers' demand for multi-territory and multi-repertoire licences for cross-border and online uses has not been satisfactorily addressed;

122.  Recalls that the objective of the EU is to promote the cultural and creative industries both online and offline and considers that the widespread use of pan-European licences in accordance with market and consumers' demands should be the goal and that, if this cannot be achieved within a short time frame, a comprehensive assessment of necessary legislation to deal with all potential obstacles to the creation of an effective EU internal market, including the principle of territoriality, should be undertaken;

123.  Welcomes the Commission revision of the Union trademark system and encourages the Commission to ensure that the relevant steps are taken to ensure that trademarks can benefit from the same level of protection in the online and offline environment;

124.  Stresses that a strong, balanced and properly implemented intellectual property rights (IPR) system that contributes to greater transparency and prevents any fragmentation, is one of the key framework conditions for innovation; welcomes the Commission efforts to prevent IPR from constituting a barrier to competition and innovation; further calls on the Commission to develop a comprehensive intellectual property strategy – and where appropriate, to submit legislative proposals – which balances inventors' rights with promoting wide use of and access to knowledge and inventions;

125.  Urges the Commission to focus on ensuring that SMEs can make efficient use of intellectual and industrial property rights;

126.  Takes the view that the Commission should take into account the specific problems encountered by SMEs when it comes to asserting their intellectual property rights in accordance with the principle of ‘Think Small First’ established by the Small Business Act for Europe, inter alia by applying the principle of non-discrimination for SMEs;

127.  Takes the view that well functioning enforcement of IPR increases the incentives for companies to develop innovative products and therefore increases the range of goods and services available to consumers;

128.  Calls for the introduction of a balanced single European patent; welcomes, meanwhile, the broad support in the Council for the enhanced cooperation procedure on a single EU patent to start in 2011;

129.  Points out that the single European patent and the European Company Statute need to be adopted to promote the transition to extra-Community trade; underlines the need to reduce the costs of an EU patent and IPR, taking into account the economic disparities that exist among EU Member States, in order to make them more competitive vis-à-vis US and Japanese prices;

130.  Calls for the completion of the European Research Area – a Treaty obligation – by 2014, so as to enable the EU to retain and attract top talent, to maximise the freedom of movement for researchers, to promote the cross-border activity of research and technology institutes and the dissemination, transfer and exploitation of research results; stresses that it will therefore be of key importance to develop appropriate funding mechanisms;

131.  Stresses the need to promote policies which encourage researchers to remain in the EU Member States by promoting attractive working conditions at public research institutes;

132.  Believes that an efficient innovation and growth policy must inevitably invest in research programmes which facilitate mobility and exchanges between researchers at international level and strengthen cooperation between the worlds of science and business (Marie Curie Actions);

133.  Stresses the importance of creating, at both European and national level, favourable conditions and incentives in order to boost participation in doctoral studies, as well as participation in innovative research, so as to prevent the brain drain and enable the EU to derive substantial benefits, strengthening its competitiveness through advanced, innovative research and studies;

134.  Calls for swift revision of the legislation on the Community trade mark and, in this connection, for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure that trade marks are afforded the same degree of protection in both online and offline environments;

135.  Welcomes the Commission proposal to develop a European knowledge market for IPR and licensing by the end of 2011, including facilitating access to unused intellectual properties, among others, by encouraging the formation of common patent platforms and patent pools;

136.  Urges the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals required for the creation of a fully functioning Digital Single Market by 2015, as this would significantly improve the framework conditions for innovation; stresses that the initiatives must be ambitious in particular in key areas such as copyright, e-commerce, including consumer policy for e-commerce, and utilisation of public-sector information;

137.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to place the completion of the Single Market, including measures to promote a Digital Single Market, at the heart of innovation policy, as this will deliver better prices and more quality for consumers, support the development of innovative products, boost job creation in the EU and generate new EU growth opportunities in lead markets;

138.  Points out that, if we are to move towards a single innovation market, ways of assessing the direct and indirect, short- and long-term, economic and social benefits need to be agreed;

Public procurement

139.  Recalls that public procurement, representing 17 % of the EU's annual GDP, plays an important role in the European single market and in stimulating innovation;

140.  Urges the Member States to strategically use public procurement addressing the societal challenges, to stimulate innovation and direct their public procurement budget towards innovative, sustainable and eco-efficient products, processes and services, taking into account that the cheapest offer may not always be economically the most viable one; calls, therefore, on the Commission:

   to facilitate, in its legislative proposals, public procurement which enables innovation, including a review of pre-commercial procurement opportunities;
   to provide possibilities for using EU co-funding through the Structural Funds as an incentive for regional and local public sector bodies,
   to issue best-practice guidelines and training programmes for public procurers at Member state-level, aiming at developing skills in complex pre-commercial and innovative procurement;

141.  Insists that innovation must be a key component of public policy in such fields as the environment, water, energy, transport, telecommunications, health and education; stresses the need to promote the across-the-board dissemination and absorption of innovation, in the public sector, private firms and especially SMEs;

142.  Urges the Commission and Member States to support the efforts of the public sector to adopt innovative approaches and launch the new research programme on innovation in the public sector, for example in the fields of e-government, e-health and e-procurement, and also disseminate best practices in public administration which will reduce bureaucracy and embrace citizen-centred policies; stresses the importance of the public sector in strengthening public confidence in the internal digital market;

143.  Calls on the Commission, Member States and local and regional authorities to encourage the use of e-procurement and especially the take up of pre-commercial procurement, including joint and electronic procurement, whilst paying due attention to compliance with data protection rules as an integral part of the EU's innovation strategy; calls in particular on the Commission as part of the general review of the legal framework for public procurement, to clarify and simplify the relevant rules and enable contracting authorities to make more transparent use of pre-commercial procurement; calls also on the Commission and Member States to encourage the transparent inclusion of specified and veritable social, environmental, fair-trade and innovative criteria in public procurement without undermining SMEs' active engagement in the process of working up new and innovative solutions and respecting applicable competition rules;

144.  Notes that innovative SMEs face problems in accessing funding for internationalization and international trade credit insurance, among other barriers, and highlights the need to implement new support measures for SMEs under the framework of the revised Small Business Act and the expected Communication on International Trade Policy and SMEs;

145.  Emphasises that international reciprocity is needed in respect of access to public procurement markets, thus enabling EU businesses to compete on fair terms internationally;

146.  Insists on the need to focus particularly on non-tariff barriers, which, as tariffs are gradually reduced or eliminated, tend to become the main obstacles to international trade; regards as unjustified all barriers resulting from the inconsistent implementation of bilateral and multilateral trade rules; regards as justified, on the other hand, all barriers resulting from legitimate legislative and administrative activities by public authorities originating in non-trade areas but having unintended consequences on trade, the elimination of which must be subject to public consultation and deliberation;

147.  Acknowledges that technology transfer in the interest of development and with respect to achieving the MDGs needs to be an important aspect of European trade policy, but recognizes that the transfer of EU high-technology know-how to third countries should be monitored by the Commission in order to gain better information on innovation patterns and future developments, and to avoid unfair competition;

148.  Underlines the important role that SMEs can play if public procurement rules are designed with adjustable requirements (including capital requirements and the size of contracts) according to the size of the participating business;

149.  Stresses the importance of the EU and its Member States engaging in scientific cooperation with third countries; takes the view that EU undertakings must be guaranteed better access to research and development programmes in third countries;

150.  Stresses that the EU and the Member States should act in a coordinated manner on agreements and measures in the field of science and technology relating to third countries; takes the view that consideration should be given to the potential for framework agreements by the EU and its Member States with third countries;

European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs)

151.  Recalls its resolution of 11 November 2010 on EIPs:

   stating the overarching principle of resource intelligence in all EIPs, thus promoting resource efficiency, smart consumption and efficient production and management throughout the supply chain,
   welcoming the pilot project on active and healthy ageing;

152.  Stresses that the EIPs must:

   not exceed the limited number of grand societal challenges and must be aligned with them,
   generate inspiration through ambitious but feasible ‘(wo)man on the moon’ targets, focused on impact, clear deliverables and translated coherently into specific objectives,
   create synergies and follow the SMART principles,
   be shared and coordinated among more than two policy fields (DGs) within the Commission,
   integrate and better coordinate all existing R&D&I instruments and initiatives, including the EIT's Knowledge and Innovation Communities, while avoiding unnecessary duplication,
   ensure participation of all relevant public and private partners, including SMEs and civil society organisations, along the supply chains , in the selection, development and operation of the future partnerships;
Therefore asks the European Commission to promote and support other initiatives based on the principle of European Innovation Partnerships;

153.  Considers exemplary the objective assigned to the pilot Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing of extending healthy lifetimes by two years by 2020, and takes the view that clear objectives should be set for all innovation partnerships, which without innovative measures would lack vision and motivation, making it more difficult to set measurable interim and partial objectives;

154.  Welcomes the ‘European Innovation Partnerships’ intended to increase and coordinate investments in R&D as well as to better coordinate public procurement to speed up the introduction of innovations into the market; stresses however that procurement policies should be designed not to replace private markets or to distort competition but to leverage them, stimulating the diffusion of innovation, while keeping the markets open to move in new directions;

155.  Calls on the Commission to come up with proposals in the Regulation for the different funds in the period 2014-2020, in order to facilitate the European Innovation Partnership in concrete terms;

156.  Calls upon the Commission to report annually to Parliament on all EIPs, and twice-yearly on the first pilot project and demands the involvement of the European Parliament in all stages of the implementation of the EIPs;

157.  Calls on the Commission to set up an innovation partnership for raw materials;

The region as an important partner

158.  Underlines that full engagement of the regional and local authorities is crucial to achieving the goals of the Innovation Union, as they have an important role in bringing together businesses, knowledge institutions, public authorities and the citizen in the diamond 4 standard thus serving as an intermediary between these various actors, the Member States and the EU; calls therefore on the Commission to suggest areas for discussion and operational arrangements whereby the regions can participate in and make a contribution towards providing the most appropriate responses to the grand societal challenges, in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity while at the same time acknowledging the specific needs of the different regions;

159.  Notes the conclusions of the European Innovation Panel of 2009 to the effect that the economic and financial crisis is having disproportionate effects in different countries and regions which are undermining the convergence objective; is concerned that the current budgetary constraints imposed on the Member States may lead to greater restrictions on STI investment, with potentially damaging effects; agrees that the ‘Innovation Union’ initiative should involve all Member States and regions and that it is essential to avoid creating an ‘innovation divide’ between more and less innovative countries and regions;

160.  Calls on every region to invest in innovation and adjust its innovation strategy to increase its efficiency, furthermore to upgrade its human capital and enhance the ability and willingness of its enterprises to innovate and be internationally competitive;

161.  Points out that decision-takers at regional level must be fully aware of the potential for economic growth that research and innovation activities offer all regions, as the bulk of innovations come about at the practical interface (demand- and user-based innovations) and are mostly funded by the ERDF; notes therefore that, in so far as innovation activities do not necessarily or principally require the existence of higher education establishments, regions without universities and research centres should also be able to develop their own innovation capacities and derive maximum benefit from regional and local resources and assets in terms of potential for innovation;

162.  Notes that fostering innovation at the regional level can help reduce regional disparities; encourages the various levels (regional, national and EU) nonetheless to coordinate their efforts more effectively as part of Europe-wide planning of R&D activities;

163.  Points out that innovation – both in policy-making and in the activities of businesses and research centres – is of fundamental importance in fleshing out EU territorial cohesion policy and that, by its very nature, it can make a decisive contribution towards meeting cohesion objectives and overcoming the barriers standing in the way of this in areas with specific geographical and demographic features;

164.  Draws attention to the contribution that cultural diversity makes to innovation; considers, in this connection, that action to safeguard and promote regional cultural diversity should be given a prominent role in innovation policy;

165.  Stresses the key role of the regions in drawing up policies to stimulate innovation at national level; points out, however, that in many Member States regional and local budgets are insufficient and national budgets for innovation are low;

166.  Stresses that the full innovation potential of EU regions must be mobilised in order to meet the Europe 2020 objective of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and points out that future regional policy must treat this challenge as a major priority; believes that this prioritisation applies to all the objectives of regional policy, and emphasises the need to ensure that the competitiveness of Europe is guaranteed by world standards; calls for industry to be involved in eco-innovation, since entrepreneurs have a very important role to play in spreading eco-innovation more widely at regional level; notes in this regard that informing entrepreneurs – by demonstrating new business opportunities – will be crucial to the success of a strategy aimed at developing resource-efficient economies and sustainable industries.

167.  Stresses the role of the innovative potential of countries which are not members of the EU but which cooperate with the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, and calls for those countries to be included in the ‘Innovation Union’ initiative;

168.  Highlights the great potential of cities in pursuing research and innovation; believes that smarter urban policy, and the ‘Smart Cities’ initiative in the field of energy, based on technological advancements and addressing the fact that 80 % of Europe's population lives in towns, which is also where the greatest social disparities are, would contribute to sustainable economic innovation;

Strategy Implementation

169.  Invites the European Commission to translate the current strategic document ‘Innovation Union’ into an action plan with specific objectives and with measurable and time-framed targets; calls on the Commission to monitor progress regularly, assessing obstacles and putting forward mechanism to enable improvement, reporting regularly to the European Parliament and the Council;

170.  Invites the European Commission to assess specific instruments of the European Innovation Policy against our main external competitors (USA, Japan, and BRIC countries) and report on their comparative performance towards innovation.

o
o   o

171.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0398.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0093.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0209.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0223.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0401.
(6) Press release entitled ‘She Figures 2009 – major findings and trends’, European Commission, 2009, http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/09/519&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en.

Last updated: 8 November 2012Legal notice