Europe not most innovative economy

The Commission’s ‘European Innovation Scoreboard’ shows that all Member States are improving, but the EU as a whole is still lagging behind the US and Japan. The Commission is particularly concerned about Europe’s relatively weak investment by business in R&D, and a low level of high-tech patenting activity.

The ‘Innovation Scoreboard’ analyses statistical data on 17 indicators in the areas of human resources, knowledge creation, transmission and application of new knowledge, and innovation finance output and markets. The main outcomes are:

  • Overall the innovation performance of the Member States is improving;
  • There are strong differences between Member States;
  • The gap between the best-performing and weakest-performing Member States still appears to be growing;
  • For most of the indicators for which comparable data is available, the US and Japan are outperformed by at least one of the Member States;
  • The two major weaknesses of innovation in the EU are patenting and business R&D.

Main recommendations of the Commission’s Innovation Scoreboard to the Member States are:

  • To improve national innovation statistics and increase frequency;
  • To promote policy benchmarking and quantitative targets;
  • To participate in the co-ordination of innovation policies in Europe and contribute to the diffusion of good practices.
  • To support Commission action addressing the common European weakness of high-tech patenting and business R&D;
  • To develop the dialogue on innovation policy options among stakeholders;
  • Under the next Framework Programme: to cooperate with the Commission and other Member States to launch common innovation policy initiatives.


The innovation scoreboard is one component of a framework provided by the Commission to identify areas of weakness, and of strength, in efforts by Member States and the EU as a whole to achieve the Lisbon target of "becoming the most competitive economy globally". The scoreboard is complemented by information collection and analysis of innovation policy measures and trends in the Member States, and by benchmarking to identify 'good practices' with the potential to help boost innovation performance.

The European Innovation Scoreboard builds on the Commission's 1996 Innovation Action Plan and the 1995 Green Paper on Innovation.


  • The Commission will develop new innovation indicators and carry out surveys as a complement to official statistics;
  • The scoreboard will be extended to candidate states aiming to include these in the 2002 scoreboard, subject to the availability of statistical data;
  • A series of regional indicators complementary to the innovation scoreboard will be developed;
  • Commission will invite Member States to analyse the results through an open debate with business, professional associations, unions and academia.
  • The innovation scoreboard will be updated and published annually.


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