No progress on Lisbon target as R&D stays put at 1.84 per cent of GDP

12 Mar 2008 | News
There was no headway towards the Lisbon target of spending 3 per cent of GDP on R&D, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.

There was no headway towards the Lisbon target of boosting Europe’s knowledge economy by spending 3 per cent of GDP on R&D, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.

The Commission’s statistics arm reported that R&D investment stagnated in 2006 at 1.84 per cent of GDP, exactly the same as 2005. This is lower than 2000, when the figure was 1.86 percent. Total spending by 27 member states on R&D in 2006 was €10 billion, up from €170 billion in 2000.

In total 5 per cent of the workforce in the EU27 are scientists and engineers. 

The European Council’s Lisbon strategy that aims to turn the European Union into the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010, set the objective of spending 3 percent of GDP on R&D to help achieve this.

Some member states have reached the 3 per cent threshold already, with the data showing that R&D intensity varies from 0.4 per cent of GDP in Cyprus to 3.8 per cent in Sweden (see Table 1: Top 20 EU27 and EFTA (European Free Trade Area) regions - employment in high- and medium high-tech manufacturing, 2006).

Sweden is followed by Finland at 3.45 per cent, Germany 2.51 per cent, Austria 2.45 per cent and Denmark 2.43 per cent. The member states with the lowest R&D intensity after Cyprus were Romania 0.46 per cent, Bulgaria 0.48 per cent and Slovakia 0.4 per cent.

The biggest increases in R&D intensity between 2000 and 2006 were in Austria, which went from 1.91 per cent to 2.45 per cent, Estonia, 0.61 per cent to 1.14 per cent and the Czech Republic, 1.21 per cent to 1.54 per cent.

Together, Germany, at €58 billion, France at €38 billion and the UK at €32 billion (in 2005) accounted for around 60 per cent of total R&D expenditure in the EU27.

The highest proportion of scientists and engineers in the workforce were in Belgium with 7.9 per cent, Ireland at 6.8 per cent, Finland, 6.7 per cent, Sweden 6.5 per cent and Denmark 6.0 per cent. The lowest shares were in Portugal at 2.7 per cent and Bulgaria, Austria and Slovakia, all at 3 per cent.

The highest rate of employment in high- and medium high-tech manufacturing in occurred in Lombardia in Italy, with 448,000, and Stuttgart, Germany with 377,000, Cataluña in Spain with 286 00). Germany dominated the top 20 list with eleven regions, followed by Italy with 5 and France 2.

In total in the EU27, 12 million workers were employed in medium high-tech manufacturing and 2.3 million in high-tech manufacturing, the equivalent of 5.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively of total employment.

The highest rates of employment in the so-called ‘Knowledge Intensive Services’ were in Île de France and Lombardia

In total 70 million people were employed in knowledge intensive services (KIS) and 7 million in high-tech KIS, the equivalent of 32.6 percent and 3.3 percent respectively of total employment.

In Île de France 2.1 million people are employed in KIS and Lombardia 1.4 million. The dominance of German regions was less apparent in terms of those employed in KIS than high-tech manufacturing: Germany had five regions in the top 20 list, followed by Spain, France and the UK with 3 each.

In relative terms the highest employment in KIS is found in Stockholm in Sweden with 56.7 percent of total employment and in Inner London at 56.6 percent. Sweden had five regions in the top 20 list, followed by the UK with 4 (see Table 2: Top 20 EU27 and EFTA regions, employment in knowledge intensive services (KIS), 2006).

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up