Investing in Europe's future

More investments in research and technology are needed to secure highly-skilled jobs and the EU's position as a global innovation leader

Airbus’ “Flight Lab” BLADE demonstrator aircraft was showcased at the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show

Shortly, the EU will decide on its multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period. The MFF is not a simple practice in budgeting: it is a reflection of political priorities.

The EU must take this opportunity to safeguard Europe’s technological and economic leadership role. Most importantly, as China and the US are prioritising technology, the EU must invest more in research and innovation.

Becoming an Innovation Union

In 2000, the EU initiated the Lisbon strategy that sought to make the EU "the most competitive and knowledge-based economy in the world." In a renewed effort to achieve this objective, Europe has recently put forward the idea of becoming an "Innovation Union."


The EU now has the unique opportunity to use the upcoming EU budget to turn rhetoric into reality. In an increasingly competitive global market, the EU needs to invest where it matters. Europe’s competitors are taking measures to increase innovations in the years to come. The US, despite its protectionist trade policies, dominates the global tech scene. The Googles and Apples of the world touch our lives in multiple ways – from how we communicate to how we conduct business. And China is rapidly moving from imitator to innovator by investing in domestic industries and tech companies abroad.

Doubling Europe’s investment in innovation

In order to remain competitive in this cut-throat environment, Europe has to become more innovative. This begins with education. By 2030, China and India are expected to graduate more than 60 percent of science, technology, engineering and math students in major economies. Europe is expected to account for only 8 percent. There is a clear need to reach out to prospective students and to overcome the persistent gender gap in the fields.


The EU needs to invest in lighthouse projects in Artificial Intelligence (AI), digitalisation, mobility – including aeronautics –, space, cybersecurity and other pioneering technologies. While Horizon 2020 is the EU's biggest research programme ever, it stills pales by comparison. That’s why Europe’s innovation budget should be increased to safeguard the EU’s competitiveness and highly-skilled jobs in times of rapid technological change.


Europe should use the MFF to build on its own strengths. The EU remains the largest economy and trading community in the world. With sufficient funding in technology and innovation, paired with strong European cooperation, the EU can maintain its position as a global leader.


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