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Home  > International Relations  > News  > 324th Meeting of CREST – the EU’s Scientific and Technical Research Committee

324th Meeting of CREST – the EU’s Scientific and Technical Research Committee

 - 16/01/2009

Logotype of CREST – Scientific and Technical Research Committee da UE The 324th Meeting of CREST – the Scientific and Technical Research Committee took place on 16th January 2009 in the Council of the European Union building in Brussels. It was chaired by the Director-General for Research.

This meeting was attended at Director-General level by the representations of the Member States and associate countries under the 7th Framework Programme for IDT. The Portuguese delegation was headed by the President of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC).

The meeting agenda included: a report on the December 2008 Lisbon exercise on mutual learning, ERA 2020 vision, presentation of the Key Figures 2008/2009, a tool-box of IDT programme instruments, the Ljubljana process and IDT governance strategy in the EU, the creation of two High Level Groups agreed by Council – the High Level Group for Joint Programming (GPC) chaired by the Presidency of the EU and the Strategic Forum for International Scientific and Technological Cooperation (SFIC, chaired by a Member State to be elected in this Forum (with Portugal represented by the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) in the person of its Head of International Relations, Ana Cristina Neves) – and two further working parties in the scope of  CREST – Human Resources, Mobility and Knowledge Transfer – the economic and financial crisis and the evaluation report on the Open Coordination Method in the scope of IDT.

Portugal deemed the report that was presented on the mutual learning exercise as being very limited in its efficacy, given that its potential interest is for developing public policy and it therefore needs to focus on a recent period (the last two or three years). Unfortunately the report covers developments from the 6 to 7 years prior to 2006.

Similarly, the most recent data from the Key Figures 2008/2009 dates from 2006, and figures from previous years (including from 2003) have even been used as the most recent data for certain indicators when data for 2007 is already available for all countries in EUROSTAT. Additionally, the title of the report is misleading, which is made all the more acute by the reference to 2008/2009, when the situation portrayed is, as referred, from 2006 or before. This exercise is also much less useful than it could be for forming public policy at the current time. As an example of recent changes that are not visible in the report is the increase in the intensity of R&D expenditure in Portugal of more than 47% from 2005 to 2007, and roughly 10% in a series of other Member States including Spain, which, due to its size, has an important structural significance on the EU. The report focuses on a relatively distant past and does not make this dynamic apparent.

As regards measures in response to the economic and financial crisis, Portugal alluded to:

  • The increase in tax deductions for R&D expenditure, previously at one of the highest levels applied, now becoming one of the even higher rates in the EU, even after the recent increase in France also in the scope of measures in response to the crisis.
  • The stipulation in public contracts that 1% of the value of contracts over 25 million Euros must be spent on IDT.
  • The increase in the Portuguese public budget for IDT, growing 44% from 2007 to 2008 and 9% from 2008 to 2009, and the continuation of this growth in public investment in IDT, Education and Innovation to be maintained as a national objective.
  • A major university reform through new legislation, enabling 3 public universities to take on the status of Foundations in December, receiving specific aid for this transition, for IDT in new areas and for Human Resources development.
  • An enormous increase (97%) in private sector R&D spending from 2005 to 2007, which led to this spending exceeding the total for public, university and not-for-profit institution spending on R&D for the first time. However, the foreseeable negative effects of the economic and financial crisis are of concern for the sustainability of companies’ R&D investment.
  • The Government’s investment in an infrastructure programme and an agreement with telecommunications operators for Next Generation Networks and FTTH (Fibre To The Home), with considerable sums already pledged for coming years and which should in part help offset the current economic problems.
Last updated ( 16/07/2010 )