The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said that the EU should be striving for more investment to compete with its science research and innovation rivals, especially in the US and Asia.
This address was part of his speech at the opening of the joint European Commission and European Parliament high level conference on EU research and innovation in our daily life. SciTech Europa attended to report
The EU’s main competitors
Tajani focused on the EU’s competition, with the major innovation rivals being in China, South Korea, Japan and India. He said: “China has invested just as much as we have in research and innovation, and because of this china has gone from 1% of scientific publications in the 1980s to more than 16% at the moment. This success has had an impact on many sectors, [including] smartphones and computers. Asia has become the main region for research and is even ahead of the US and Europe. Unfortunately our continent only ranks third.”
Tajani explained the importance of improving Europe’s ranking among its research and innovation rivals. He commented: “We have to pick up the gauntlet that has been thrown to us by current rivals and emerging powers. This is the only way that we can remain competitive in chemistry, pharmaceuticals, electrical engineering, robotics, and aeronautics which are key sectors. We have to improve our performance in biotechnology and digital technologies as well.”
Increasing the Horizon Europe budget
With regard to the Horizon Europe budget, the European Commission proposes increasing the research and innovation budget to €100bn in the Annual Financial Framework 2021-27. According to Tajani, this increase is insufficient and instead calls for a budget of €120bn. Justifying his case, Tajani says: “We believe that it is important to be even more ambitious..This is because we want a political budget that reflects the priorities of citizens.”
Does Europe need reform?
“So much is said on the need to change Europe”, Tajani says. “We aware of the fact there is a need for reform, but the main reform that we have to push through -which doesn’t entail revising the treaties and doesn’t involve the formalities within the institution- requires something more, and that’s a return to politics.”
Tajani advocates a bold political vision, adding: “The EU budget isn’t just about numbers and sums, it’s about political choices.”
The upcoming European election
“There will be different visions clashing in the run-up to the European election. There are those who think that if we go back to national borders and national specificities it will be a better world, and they will clash with those who think that co-operation, businessmen and academics is the best way of promoting excellence and protecting our citizens, and making sure that our continent can stand up to the challenges on the international scene and fight against our rivals.”