At the European Union summit in Lisbon in 2000, the member states committed themselves to making Europe "the most competitive and dynamic economy" in the world. Seven years later, there seems little chance of achieving this objective for research by 2010. By international standards, the EU is not doing well, and is still lagging behind countries like the USA and Japan, with regard to both the amount of investment in research and the results obtained; this is even more true of innovation.
One of the reasons for this poor showing is the lack of co-ordination of research at national, intergovernmental and EU levels, argues Pierre Papon. In order to improve this situation, it is urgent for member countries to increase their spending on research and for them to do more to develop Europe-wide research programmes by combining their efforts.
The priority given to research in Europe obviously influences the scale of scientific discoveries Europe makes and hence to some extent the EU's opportunities for innovation, says Pierre Papon, but also the image that its own residents and other nations have of the EU.