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European Commission Contemplates Creation of European Institute of Technology

  • Friday, 23rd September 2005
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

A public consultation on whether and how to create a European Institute of Technology (EIT) has been opened by the European Commission.

It will gather the views of stakeholders on how an ‘EIT’ could strengthen research, education and market innovation in Europe. The public consultation will run until mid-November, and will feed into a wider analysis by the European Commission services.

The idea of establishing a European Institute of Technology (EIT) was mentioned in the Commission’s mid-term review of the Lisbon Process in February 2005 and the European Council took note of the Commission’s intention in March.

Technological advances and the application of high-level scientific research are crucial drivers of economic growth and employment prospects. However, despite Europe’s many successes in research and education, recent evidence indicates a difficulty in translating these achievements into competitive advantages for European enterprises. Europe, with few exceptions, is falling behind when it comes to the creation, dissemination and application of “new knowledge”. As an example, the global share of patents awarded to EU companies, as well as the proportion of European Nobel Prize winners, has declined in recent years. Competitors in North America and Asia are frequently more successful in forging innovative partnerships between industry leaders and research community attracting top international researchers to pursue both fundamental and applied research.

Ján Figel’, European Commissioner in charge of Education, Training, Culture & Multilingualism said that “a European Institute of Technology could play an innovative role in supporting knowledge transfer, attracting the best researchers and companies from around the world to work in partnership”.

Such an EIT should draw on the considerable strengths of existing European institutions.

President Barroso welcomed this important public consultation : “Together we need to strengthen Europe’s potential in research and technology, by stimulating research careers, by encouraging European researchers to stay in Europe and by attracting the best brains from around the world to Europe”.

The Commission is still very much in listening mode on this issue. The public consultation will focus on ‘first order’ issues: the EIT’s key missions, objectives, added-value and possible structure. An online questionnaire, available on the ‘Europa’ website, asks for views on how the EIT could best organise its activities in order to support innovation and the transfer of knowledge throughout the EU.

Once the public consultation is concluded, the Commission will consider whether it wishes to take the matter further, and may then prepare a paper for the Spring European Council in March 2006. If the idea of the establishment of an EIT were to be approved by the European Council, the Commission would make a formal legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament.

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