The new commissioner acknowledged current debates surrounding the 3% R&D objective but insisted that now is the wrong time to make cutbacks in a sector that is underperforming in many EU member states.
Geoghegan-Quinn was delivering the keynote address on Friday (5 March) at the Lisbon Council's 2010 Innovation Summit, her first major speech as innovation commissioner since the European Parliament hearing in January.
Speaking about the 3% target, she said, ''I know that this is controversial. But I believe that it should stay. Research ministers have told me in clear terms that its existence has strengthened their hand in their dealings with their finance ministers […] Now is exactly the wrong moment to remove this discipline.''
''With budgets under pressure, governments may view research and development as an easy area for cutbacks. But we know, from the experiences of countries like Finland, that raising R&D budgets is the route to recovery,"’ she added.
Research, innovation at 'core' of Europe 2020
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn sees research and innovation as core components of the EU's new Europe 2020 strategy and believes that they must be prioritised to create new sources of growth and employment.
She stressed the importance of cross-border collaboration and pledged to establish better infrastructure for the European Research Area (ERA). She also said that progress is needed on the European patent and new "European Innovation Partnerships," part of the Europe 2020 strategy.
The commissioner also promised to simplify the financial and administrative procedures of the EU's Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, and wants better use of EU structural funds.
Bridging disciplines and overcoming blockages
Speaking about her new role, Geoghegan-Quinn affirmed that she has the full backing of Commission President José Manuel Barroso to drive innovation forward and establish a European 'i-conomy' in the coming years – putting innovation at the heart of economic growth.
She plans to work closely with a number of other commissioners – including Antonio Tajani (industry and entrepreneurship), Neelie Kroes (digital agenda), Androulla Vassiliou (education) and Michel Barnier (internal market and services) – to help formulate innovative policies for the future.
The innovation commissioner also wants to work with member states to remove barriers to cross-border science initiatives, such as pension and social security issues, and establish more public-private partnerships.