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.
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.
To find out more about this topic, follow the link to this op-ed on the EU budget by Airbus CEO Tom Enders in Politico.