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European heads of state debate innovation policy at informal meeting

“Something is wrong with European innovation policy” – these were the words of Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, prior to the informal meeting of European heads government which took place on 20 October in Lathi, Finland. Next to energy and immigration policy, innovation policy was the main agenda item at this EU summit. The following points were addressed:

  • There was agreement on the need for a comprehensive strategy on intellectual property, which should place emphasis on the quality of patents. The European Commission’s initiative to prepare such a strategy in 2007 was welcomed, and the Commission was encouraged to submit proposals on how to develop a patent system in Europe, an issue that had been dragged for a long time.
  • Enhancing cooperation between private and public sectors was another focus. Heads of government agreed that companies needed to be supported in finding “early seed money”, and that company money should be matched by public funding. European Technology Platforms and Joint Technology Initiatives were mentioned as good examples of public-private partnership.
  • The European Commission’s proposal for the EIT was discussed and backed by the discussions (see preceding article).

Discussions at the Lahti summit were preceded by the European Commission’s release of a 10 point programme to foster innovation in Europe, and by related discussions at the Competitiveness Council of Ministers on 25 September in Brussels. Priority actions in this programme include the establishment of innovation-friendly education systems; the establishment of the EIT; work towards a single labour market for researchers; the strengthening of research-industry links and the enhancement of intellectual property rights protection (IPR). The European Council’s 2006 spring meeting had focused on the Lisbon Process and, in this context, had called upon the European Commission to develop such a “broad based innovation strategy for Europe”.

Lahti informal meeting of heads of state
Ten priority actions to achieve a broad-based
Press release Competitiveness Council