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Europe to increase R&D spend

17 Jun 2002

The European Council has agreed on an R&D spending increase and calls for action in communications technology.

The 15 member states of the European Union (EU) have agreed to increase expenditure on R&D to 3% of gross domestic product by 2010.

The countries also agreed on action in the area of communication, where they say the use of broadband should be promoted and barriers to new services in the information society should be removed.

The 3% target for R&D spending was agreed in an attempt to close the gap between the EU and its major competitors, according to the Presidency conclusions. Leaders agreed that "there must be a significant boost of the overall R&D and innovation effort in the Union, with a particular emphasis on frontier technologies".

The Council of Ministers also agreed that two thirds of the new investment in R&D should come from the private sector.

The European Council called again on the Research Council and the Parliament to adopt the Sixth Framework programme and its legal instruments by June 2002, and asked the Council of Ministers to reach a common political approach to the Community patent at its meeting in May.

"The Community patent must be an efficient and flexible instrument obtainable by business at an affordable cost, while complying with the principles of legal certainty and non-discrimination between Member States and ensuring a high level of quality", state the Presidency conclusions.

The Council asked Member States to ensure full implementation of the new communications regulatory package by May 2003 and called for the Directive on data protection to be adopted rapidly. Leaders also noted that further progress is needed, and stressed the importance of widespread availability and use of broadband networks throughout the EU by 2005 as well as the development of Internet protocol IPv6.

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