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Summit 3: Agendas

  • October 21st, 2006
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu-flag-reduced-larger.pngEuropean agenda setters have been concentrating on “innovation policy”, the key to increasing Europe’s competitiveness in the 21st Century global economy.

The twenty-five Prime Ministers gathering at the Finnish holiday town of Lahti, 20.10.06, were reminded of the concern they were expected to feel for future prosperity.

A letter from the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said: “Policy makers must lead on innovation, not just comment about the need to innovate. There is a clear consensus that Europe is falling short. Too often, research fails to carry through into commercial application …”

That observation was backed up with figures showing need for improvement in development of resources: the GDP commitment to research and development is 1.9%, and though set to be driven upward to 2.6% in four years, lagging behind other industrialised economies. Likewise education levels are behind: 22.8% o working age Europeans have tertiary education, against America 39% and Japan 37%. There are famous delays in getting uniform intellectual property protection or new European product standards.

The British and Dutch Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Jan Peter Balkenende, moved ahead of the program, arriving with a prepared statement calling for action to create a “low carbon” economy, to counter climate change; emphasising energy efficiency, renewable sources, and consideration of nuclear options. Such an economy would allow for emissions trading, (or carbon trading).

While “informal” summits make agreements on general policy as opposed to formally endorsing new laws, a set of items on the list for discussion on 20 October was brought together under the heading of an “innovation” policy.

• Long-term security of European energy supplies, and environmental sustainability.

The principles of an energy policy were on the table as the Prime Ministers also talked directly with a strategic energy partner, President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

• A major drive for research and technology, concentrated around the proposed European Institute of Technology, a collection of new international joint research centres bringing together government, university and private enterprise.

The heads of government were asked to approve the project which would be open in 2008 with a commitment of EU 2.4-billion (A$4-billion) in EU money for its first five years – additional funding to come from industry and other sources. The E.I.T. would add to existing research programs, working ahead on priority areas: hydrogen and fuel cells; nanoelectronics; innovative medicines; embedded computing systems; aeronautics, Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMESZ), and climate change.

• Immigration, inevitably listed for mention and seen in two parts, “illegal” arrivals and “legal” settlement.

Alarm over levels of unauthorised arrivals, like the 27 000 people in open boats who this year survived the hazardous sea crossing from African to the Canary Islands in Spain, (unknown numbers who did not).

Concern about best-practice in managing legal immigration., especially with social support and education for the development of a highly-skilled future workforce.