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Wednesday, 31 May 2006 - Brussels OJ edition

Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (2007-2013) (debate)

  Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (ALDE), rapporteur. (DE) Madam President, Commissioner Verheugen, this is indeed a historic moment, since it would appear that this is the European Union’s first Framework Programme to be adopted at first reading.

I should like to express my sincere thanks to the Commission for the excellent proposal without which, after all, this would not have been possible. I am, however, also grateful for the open nature of the negotiations, which involved four directorates-general. Special thanks go to the Austrian Presidency of the Council, which has truly embraced the cause of innovation and the aim of its adoption within the term of its incumbency. I should like to make particular mention of Josef Mandl and Matthias Martinek, who managed to dispel the reservations of several Member States.

But my thanks, of course, also go to my fellow Members here in Parliament. I appreciated the trust and cooperation of Mr Vakalis, Mrs Thompson and Mr Turmes as well as the draftsmen of the opinions, especially Mr Langen.

I should like to express my particular thanks to my fellow Members from the Committee on Budgets. Without their real commitment to obtaining the additional four billion, to upholding the blockade against the Council Decision, this programme could not have come into being in its current form, since a large part of the additional budget we in Parliament obtained has gone into innovation, into this CIP. My heartfelt thanks, especially to Mr Böge.

So what has changed? Where has the European Parliament been able to leave its mark? Our very first priority was to place this programme at the service of small and medium-sized enterprises. These are the main parties involved; they must be the ones to drive innovation in Europe, and we placed them in the foreground by removing many sometimes obviously bureaucratic obstructions, for instance through a new Vademecum. The Commission will publish a CIP handbook to enable applicants quickly and easily to gain information about the CIP and find the right way to obtain support.

And then we introduced a new principle. For this, I am extremely grateful to all concerned. This is the principle of ‘no wrong entry’. There is no wrong door within the Commission for an SME. Anyone with a question will not be turned away but will be directed to the right place. This is a new principle and an important contribution to the simplification of procedure, an important step in cutting red tape, and I am confident that the Commission will ensure that detailed inquiries will always find the relevant, competent consultant.

This programme has also allowed us to make a quantum leap for innovation, in that we have attempted to close the gap in the so-called ‘precede phase’, the period before a product or idea comes onto the market, by affiliating the programme with the seventh Framework Programme for Research. In our committees we are currently engaged in negotiations on the seventh Framework Programme for Research, and I have been in close collaboration with Mr Buzek, the rapporteur, who is also here today and will say a few words shortly, despite not actually being on the CIP speaking list. I am very glad that our cooperation went so well and that we were able to link the programmes so effectively.

It must be said that this programme covers all the essential elements of the Lisbon Agenda, which I should prefer to call the Liverpool Agenda, because Liverpool FC were three-nil down at half-time in the Champions League final and still pulled through to win in the end. This is, after all, the very situation in which we now find ourselves. Nonetheless, the major issues, innovation, competitiveness and energy, are all covered by this programme.

When we speak about innovation, we must be sure to define the word properly. Innovation is a name given to anything nowadays. All sorts of things are labelled ‘innovation’. But what is innovation? Innovation is not invention. Invention has to do with research; invention is the process of putting money into knowledge, of investing in knowledge. But innovation is the opposite process – making money out of knowledge! And it is precisely here that we Europeans have a major deficit; it is here that we need to make up for lost time. We have wonderful ideas. We just manage less and less often to convert these ideas into real products.

The magnetic-levitation train that you all know, the Transrapid, was invented as early as 1934, and we still have not managed to realise it in Europe. The computer, invented by Konrad Zuse, is hardly produced in the European Union any more. Nuclear fission – perhaps not everyone’s favourite subject – came from the European Union. The Internet was basically invented in the European Union. It blossomed, or its use blossomed, elsewhere. Or that hot topic, MP3, a German invention, although 90% of sales are now made outwith the EU.

This Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme creates scope not only for inventions but for their concrete application in Europe as well. This is the only way we can achieve the Lisbon objectives; it is the only way we can make progress. My sincere thanks once again to all concerned.

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