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European Innovation Scoreboard 2020

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What is the European Innovation Scoreboard?

The annual European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) provides a comparative assessment of research and innovation performance of in EU countries, other European countries, and regional neighbours. It allows policy-makers to assess relative strengths and weaknesses of national research and innovation systems, track progress, and identify priority areas to boost innovation performance.

The EIS covers the EU Member States as well as Iceland, Israel, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. On a more limited number of globally available indicators, the EIS compares the EU with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States.

What is the latest innovation performance of EU countries?

Based on scores for 27 separate indicators, including innovation activities in companies, investment in research and innovation, and human resource and employment elements, EU countries fall into four performance groups:

  • Innovation LeadersDenmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden perform significantly above the EU average;
  • Strong Innovators – The innovation performance of Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal is above or close to the EU average;
  • Moderate Innovators – Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain show an innovation performance below the EU average;
  • Modest Innovators – The innovation performance of Bulgaria and Romania is below 50% of the EU average.

In this year’s edition, Luxembourg (previously a Strong Innovator) joins the group of Innovation Leaders, while Portugal (previously a Moderate Innovator) joins the group of Strong Innovators. The relative innovation performance of Member States is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Performance of EU Member States’ innovation systems

Coloured columns show countries’ performance in 2019, using the most recent data for 27 indicators, relative to that of the EU in 2012. The horizontal hyphens show performance in 2018, using the next most recent data, relative to that of the EU in 2012. Grey columns show countries’ performance in 2012 relative to that of the EU 2012. For all years, the same measurement methodology has been used. The dashed lines show the threshold values between the performance groups.

EU performance leaders in specific areas of innovation:

The countries that have good overall innovation performance also perform well in most specific areas of innovation. However, some Strong and Moderate Innovators perform well on individual dimensions:

  • Attractive research systemsLuxembourg continues to be the best performing country, followed by Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. These countries are open for cooperation with partners from abroad, researchers are well networked at international level, and the quality of research output is very high.
  •  Innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)Portugal is the leader followed by Finland, Austria and Belgium. These countries are characterised by high shares of SMEs with innovative products and business processes. Ireland also leads in the employment impacts of innovation, (followed by Luxembourg, Malta and Sweden) and the sales impacts of innovation (followed by Germany, Slovakia and Belgium).
  • Innovation linkages and collaborationAustria is the top performer, followed by Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands. Companies in these countries have more versatile innovation capabilities, as they engage in innovation partnerships with other companies or public-sector organisations. The research systems in these countries are also geared towards meeting the demand from companies, as highlighted by private co-funding of public research.
  • In other innovation dimensions measured by the Scoreboard, the EU leaders are: Sweden for human resources; Denmark for finance and innovation-friendly environment; Germany for firm investment; and Luxembourg for intellectual assets.

Have Member States improved their innovation performances?

The EIS 2020 shows an improved overall innovation performance. For the EU as a whole, it increased by 8.9 percentage points between 2012 and 2019. Over the same period, the performance improved for 24 Member States, most notably for Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, Portugal and Greece, where the innovation performance grew by more than 20 percentage points (Figure 2).

Compared to the last year’s edition, performance has improved for 25 Member States, most notably for Cyprus, Spain, and Finland.

Figure 2: Change in Member States’ innovation performance since 2012

The vertical axis shows Member States’ performance in 2019 relative to that of the EU in 2012. The horizontal axis shows the change in performance between 2012 and 2019 relative to that of the EU in 2012. The dashed lines show the respective scores for the EU.

In which dimensions has Europe improved?

For the EU as a whole, performance has improved the most in the innovation-friendly environment (notably in broadband penetration), followed by firm investments, (notably in non-R&D innovation expenditure), and finance and support (notably in venture capital expenditures). All the dimensions and indicators can be seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3: EU performance change by dimension and indicator since 2012

Normalised scores in 2019 (blue coloured bars) and 2018 (black coloured bars) relative to those in 2012 (=100)

What are the key drivers of innovation?

To achieve a high level of innovation performance, countries need a balanced innovation system performing well across all dimensions. They need an appropriate level of public and private investment in education, research and skills development, effective innovation partnerships among companies and with academia, as well as an innovation-friendly business environment, including strong digital infrastructure. These key areas correspond largely to the dimensions and indicators used for the European Innovation Scoreboard.

How does the EU’s performance compare to other countries?

Comparing the EU average to a selection of global competitors, the EU continues to have a performance lead over the United States, China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and India (Figure 4). South Korea is the most innovative country, performing 34 per cent above the performance score of the EU in 2019. Since 2012 South Korea, Australia and Japan have increased their performance lead over the EU, while the gap between the EU and the United States, China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa has become smaller.

Figure 4: Current global performance

Bars show countries’ performance in 2019 relative to that of the EU27 in 2019.

In terms of relative-to-EU performance in 2019, South Korea and Canada would be Innovation Leaders. Australia, China, Japan, and the United States would be Strong Innovators, Brazil would be a Moderate Innovator, and Russia, India, and South Africa would be Modest Innovators. With regard to innovation performance growth rate, China has had the largest increase since 2012, growing at more than five times that of the EU over the period (Figure 5). For Australia, Brazil, Japan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States, performance has also increased at a higher rate than the EU. For Canada and India, performance has decreased compared to the EU.

Figure 5: Change in global performance since 2012

Change in performance is measured as the difference between the performance in 2019 relative to the EU27 in 2012 and the performance in 2012 relative to the EU27 in 2012

How is innovation performance measured in the Scoreboard?

Innovation performance in the EIS 2020 is measured using 27 performance indicators, distinguishing between ten innovation dimensions in four main categories (for a full overview of the indicators, see Table 1 in the Annex):

  • Framework conditions capture the main drivers of innovation performance and cover three innovation dimensions: human resources, attractive research systems, and innovation-friendly environment.
  • Investmentsinclude public and private investment in research and innovation, distinguishing between external finance and support, and own-resource investments.
  • Innovation activitiescapture the innovation efforts at the company level, covering three dimensions: innovators, linkages, and intellectual assets.
  • Impacts illustrate how innovation translates into benefits for the economy as a whole: employment impacts and sales effects.

No changes have been made to the performance indicators since the in-depth review for the 2017 edition. However, due to data revisions for some indicators, results are not comparable across editions.

In response to a need for contextual analyses to better understand performance differences between the innovation indicators used in the main measurement framework, a set of contextual indicators was introduced to the country profiles in the 2017 edition and revised the following year. These contextual indicators include economic, demographic and governance dimensions such as sectoral employment, population, economic growth, and business environment conditions. For this year’s report, no changes have been introduced and the report presents an analysis of structural differences in terms of economic structure and performance, business and entrepreneurship, demography, and governance and policy framework in a series of country profiles.

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A fresh start on migration: Striking a new balance between responsibility and solidarity

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Women and children at the the Turkey-Greece border at Pazarkule. © IOM/Uygar Emrah Özesen

European Commission is proposing a new Pact on Migration and Asylum, covering all of the different elements needed for a comprehensive European approach to migration. It sets out improved and faster procedures throughout the asylum and migration system. And it sets in balance the principles of fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. This is crucial for rebuilding trust between Member States and confidence in the capacity of the European Union to manage migration.

Migration is a complex issue, with many facets that need to be weighed together. The safety of people who seek international protection or a better life, the concerns of countries at the EU’s external borders, which worry that migratory pressures will exceed their capacities and which need solidarity from others. Or the concerns of other EU Member States, which are concerned that, if procedures are not respected at the external borders, their own national systems for asylum, integration or return will not be able to cope in the event of large flows.

The current system no longer works. And for the past five years, the EU has not been able to fix it. The EU must overcome the current stalemate and rise up to the task. With the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission proposes common European solutions to a European challenge. The EU must move away from ad-hoc solutions and put in place a predictable and reliable migration management system.

Following extensive consultations and an honest and holistic assessment of the situation, the Commission proposes to improve the overall system. This includes looking at ways of improving cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, ensuring effective procedures, successful integration of refugees and return of those with no right to stay. No single solution on migration can satisfy all sides, on all aspects – but by working together, the EU can find a common solution.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We are proposing today a European solution, to rebuild trust between Member States and to restore citizens’ confidence in our capacity to manage migration as a Union. The EU has already proven in other areas that it can take extraordinary steps to reconcile diverging perspectives. We have created a complex internal market, a common currency and an unprecedented recovery plan to rebuild our economies. It is now time to rise to the challenge to manage migration jointly, with the right balance between solidarity and responsibility.”

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Moria is a stark reminder that the clock has run out on how long we can live in a house half-built. The time has come to rally around a common, European migration policy. The Pact provides the missing pieces of the puzzle for a comprehensive approach to migration. No one Member State experiences migration in the same way and the different and unique challenges faced by all deserve to be recognised, acknowledged and addressed.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Migration has always been and always will be part of our societies. What we are proposing today will build a long-term migration policy that can translate European values into practical management.  This set of proposals will mean clear, fair and faster border procedures, so that people do not have to wait in limbo. It means enhanced cooperation with third countries for fast returns, more legal pathways and strong actions to fight human smugglers. Fundamentally it protects the right to seek asylum”.

Stronger trust fostered by better and more effective procedures

The first pillar of the Commission’s approach to building confidence consists of more efficient and faster procedures. In particular, the Commission is proposing to introduce an integrated border procedure, which for the first time includes a pre-entry screening covering identification of all people crossing the EU’s external borders without permission or having been disembarked after a search and rescue operation.

This will also entail a health and a security check, fingerprinting and registration in the Eurodac database. After the screening, individuals can be channeled to the right procedure, be it at the border for certain categories of applicants or in a normal asylum procedure. As part of this border procedure, swift decisions on asylum or return will be made, providing quick certainty for people whose cases can be examined rapidly.

At the same time, all other procedures will be improved and subject to stronger monitoring and operational support from EU agencies. The EU’s digital infrastructure for migration management will be modernised to mirror and support these procedures. 

Fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity

The second pillar at the core of the Pact is fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. Member States will be bound to act responsibly and in solidarity with one another. Each Member State, without any exception, must contribute in solidarity in times of stress, to help stabilize the overall system, support Member States under pressure and ensure that the Union fulfils its humanitarian obligations.

In respect of the different situations of Member States and of fluctuating migratory pressures, the Commission proposes a system of flexible contributions from the Member States. These can range from relocation of asylum seekers from the country of first entry to taking over responsibility for returning individuals with no right to stay or various forms of operational support.

While the new system is based on cooperation and flexible forms of support starting off on a voluntary basis, more stringent contributions will be required at times of pressure on individual Member States, based on a safety net.

The solidarity mechanism will cover various situations – including disembarkation of persons following search and rescue operations, pressure, crisis situations or other specific circumstances.

A change of paradigm in cooperation with non-EU countries

The EU will seek to promote tailor-made and mutually beneficial partnerships with third countries. These will help address shared challenges such as migrant smuggling, will help develop legal pathways and will tackle the effective implementation of readmission agreements and arrangements. The EU and its Member States will act in unity using a wide range of tools to support cooperation with third countries on readmission.

A comprehensive approach

Today’s package will also seek to boost a common EU system for returns, to make EU migration rules more credible. This will include a more effective legal framework, a stronger role of the European Border and Coast Guard, and a newly appointed EU Return Coordinator with a network of national representatives to ensure consistency across the EU.

It will also propose a common governance for migration with better strategic planning to ensure that EU and national policies are aligned, and enhanced monitoring of migration management on the ground to enhance mutual trust.

The management of external borders will be improved. The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps, scheduled for deployment from 1 January 2021, will provide increased support wherever needed.

A credible legal migration and integration policy will benefit European societies and economies. The Commission will launch Talent Partnerships with key non-EU countries that will match labour and skills needs in the EU. The Pact will strengthen resettlement and promote other complementary pathways, seeking to develop a European model of community or private sponsorship. The Commission will also adopt a new comprehensive Action Plan on integration and inclusion for 2021-2024.

Next steps

It is now for the European Parliament and Council to examine and adopt the full set of legislation necessary to make a truly common EU asylum and migration policy a reality. Given the urgency of local situations in several Member States, the co-legislators are invited to reach a political agreement on the core principles of the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation and to adopt the Regulation on the EU Asylum Agency as well as the Regulation on Eurodac by the end of the year. The revised Reception Conditions Directive, Qualification Regulation and recast Return Directive should also be adopted quickly, building on the progress already made since 2016.

Background

Today’s proposals deliver on President von der Leyen’s commitment in her Political Guidelines to present a new Pact on Migration and Asylum. The Pact is based on in-depth consultations with the European Parliament, all Member States, civil society, social partners and business, and crafts a careful balance integrating their perspectives.

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Green Deal: €1 billion investment to boost the green and digital transition

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The European Commission has decided to launch a €1 billion call for research and innovation projects that respond to the climate crisis and help protect Europe’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity. The Horizon 2020-funded European Green Deal Call, which will open tomorrow for registration, will spur Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis by turning green challenges into innovation opportunities.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: “The €1 billion European Green Deal call is the last and biggest call under Horizon 2020. With innovation at its heart, this investment will accelerate a just and sustainable transition to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. As we do not want anyone left behind in this systemic transformation, we call for specific actions to engage with citizens in novel ways and improve societal relevance and impact.

This Green Deal Call differs in important aspects from previous Horizon 2020 calls. Given the urgency of the challenges it addresses, it aims for clear, discernible results in the short to medium-term, but with a perspective of long-term change. There are fewer, but more targeted, larger and visible actions, with a focus on rapid scalability, dissemination and uptake.

The projects funded under this call are expected to deliver results with tangible benefits in ten areas:

Eight thematic areas reflecting the key work streams of the European Green Deal:

  1. Increasing climate ambition
  2. Clean, affordable and secure energy
  3. Industry for a clean and circular economy
  4. Energy and resource efficient buildings
  5. Sustainable and smart mobility
  6. Farm to fork
  7. Biodiversity and ecosystems
  8. Zero-pollution, toxic-free environments

And two horizontal areasstrengthening knowledge and empowering citizens, which offer a longer-term perspective in achieving the transformations set out in the European Green Deal.

The €1 billion investment will continue building Europe’s knowledge systems and infrastructures. The call includes opportunities for international cooperation in addressing the needs of less-developed nations, particularly in Africa, in the context of the Paris Agreement as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The deadline for submissions is 26 January 2021, with selected projects expected to start in autumn 2021.

A Horizon 2020 Green Deal Call Info Day & Brokerage event will take place as part of the virtual European Research & Innovation Days that will take place from 22-24 September 2020.

Background

The European Green Deal is the European Commission’s blueprint and roadmap to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050, with a sustainable economy that leaves no one behind. 

To reach this 2050 goal, action will be required by all sectors of our economy, including:

  • investing in environmentally-friendly technologies;
  • supporting industry to innovate;
  • rolling out cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of private and public transport;
  • decarbonising the energy sector;
  • ensuring buildings are more energy efficient;
  • working with international partners to improve global environmental standards.

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Why social fairness and solidarity are more important than ever

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EU Commission’s services have published the 2020 edition of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review dedicated to the theme of social fairness and solidarity. The review provides evidence-based analysis on how to achieve greater fairness across the EU in the face of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic as well as structural changes due to demographic ageing, and the green and digital transitions.

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit said: “The ESDE report shows that strengthening social fairness is key to overcoming the crisis. This requires putting people front and centre. To ensure resilience, solidarity and cohesion, the EU’s response has to prioritise employment, reduce inequalities and ensure equal opportunities. The effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights will serve as our guide.”

The review notes that the COVID-19 pandemic is having profound health, economic, employment and social effects, threatening much of the progress that the EU had achieved previously. All Member States are experiencing a greater economic shock than in 2008-2009. Economic output has contracted sharply and unemployment is on the rise. The most vulnerable persons, including Europe’s youth, are hit particularly hard.

Against this background, the ESDE report points to the following findings:

Adequate minimum wages and minimum income can have a beneficial effect on the social mobility of Europeans.

Strengthening social fairness, including through investments in people, pays off. Closing gender-related gaps brings particularly high returns, while extending working lives, and raising educational attainment also have positive effects.

Structural change, such as the green transition, has to be accompanied by social measures to be successful. Notably, this transition requires social investment in the form of re-skilling programmes and/or unemployment benefits. According to ESDE, this social investment could amount to €20 billion or more until 2030.

Short-time work schemes are protecting jobs effectively. The EU is helping Member States to provide such support through solidarity mechanisms like the instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE).

Social dialogue and collective bargaining influence fairness and its perception at the workplace by promoting more equitable wages, better working conditions and more inclusive labour markets.

More generally, to repair the damage done by COVID-19 and prepare an economy and society for a future of faster structural changes, the EU and Member States need to embrace fully the opportunities offered by the transition to a greener, digitalised economy and build inclusiveness, solidarity and resilience into the design of all policies. Ensuring a broad-based recovery is a key policy objective of our policy action, which will help strengthen social resilience in the longer run.

Background

The annual Employment and Social Developments in Europe review prepared by the Directorate-General of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, provides up-to-date economic analysis of employment and social trends in Europe and discusses related policy options. It is the European Commission’s analytical flagship report in the area of employment and social affairs, mandated by Articles 151, 159 and 161 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

There are many examples in which the Commission focuses on addressing the challenges raised in the yearly ESDE reports. In April 2020, the Commission proposed the SURE instrument, which will provide €100 billion in financial support to help protect jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In May 2020, the Commission put forward a powerful, modern and revamped long-term EU budget boosted by NextGenerationEU, an emergency temporary recovery instrument, to help repair the economic and social damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic, kickstart the recovery and prepare for a better future for the next generation. The Recovery and Resilience Facility will be one of EU’s main recovery tools, providing an unprecedented €672.5 billion of loans and grants in frontloaded financial support for the crucial first years of the recovery. The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will continue to invest in people, while an improved European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) will be able to intervene even more effectively to support workers who have lost their jobs. The European Pillar of Social Rights and its upcoming Action Plan, as well as initiatives and tools such as the European Skills Agenda, the Youth Employment Support initiative or the Digital Europe Programme will all contribute to address challenges identified in the ESDE.

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