Council calls for swift progress to knowledge economy

EU Heads of State and Government also called for 'swift progress' to be made in implementing a strategy to unlock Europe's innovation potential. Key aspects of this strategy include meeting national research and development (R&D) investment targets, promoting large research projects such as GALILEO and the Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), and improving collaboration between industry and academia.

Joint efforts have led to significant achievements in the areas of research, knowledge and innovation, such as the establishment of the European Research Council (ERC) and the launch of several JTIs. These are considered important building blocks of the knowledge-based economy that Europe hopes to become by 2010.

At the top of the list, Member States should focus on setting out in their National Reform Programmes how progress towards national R&D investment targets will be achieved. They should also show how their R&D strategies will contribute to the realisation and better governance of the European Research Area.

The Council also calls on Member States to encourage internet usage and the development of scientific e-infrastructure. With this in mind, efforts should be made to make high-speed internet available to all schools by 2010 and to set ambitious national targets for household access as part of their National Reform Programmes.

Finally, in order to become a truly modern and competitive economy, Member States and the EU must remove barriers to the free movement of knowledge by creating a fifth freedom. This would involve enhancing the cross-border mobility of researchers, as well as students, scientists, and university teaching staff. It would also require facilitating and promoting the optimal use of intellectual property created in public research organisations and encouraging open access to knowledge. Launching a new generation of world-class research facilities and promoting the mutual recognition of qualifications would also ensure greater movement of knowledge.

On climate change, European leaders pledged to find an agreement before the end of 2008 on a set of measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. These could be adopted at the latest in early 2009.

The official PRESIDENCY CONCLUSIONS on Launching the new cycle of the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and Jobs, (2008-2010), Climate change and energy and the stability of financial markets were pbulished on the 18th March 2008.