European policy on science, technology and innovation

Why we need a European STI policy

Traditionally, excellent research and innovation both represent an enormous contribution towards better life quality in the European Union (EU). The STI policy is necessary to be able to stay competitive, to remain a leading player in international science and to develop a basis for new jobs. Following the economic crisis a number of initiatives have been created to find sustainable solutions to be prepared to face future global competition occurring in each Member State.

By increasing the investment in STI from 2 to 3% of the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP), the EU aims to further produce excellent research and to improve everyone’s lives using countless new products and profiting from better healthcare, transport and digital services.

Europe 2020 Strategy

Europe 2020 is a 10-year strategy proposed by the European Commission on 3 March 2010 for advancement of the economy of the European Union. It aims at "smart, sustainable, inclusive growth" with greater coordination of national and European policy, following the Lisbon Strategy. Concretely, the Union has set five ambitious objectives - on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy - to be reached by 2020. Each Member State has adopted its own national targets in each of these areas. Concrete actions at EU and national levels underpin the strategy.

Innovation Union

As part of the EU2020 Strategy, seven “Flagship Initiatives” have been introduced in 2010 referring to programme focus areas and addressing the main targets of the strategy. These are: Digital agenda for Europe“ , “ Innovation Union“, “ Youth on the move“, Resource efficient Europe, “An industrial policy for the globalisation era“, “An agenda for new skills and jobs“ and “European platform against poverty”.

From these seven initiatives, the Innovation Union was developed by the EU as an initiative to create jobs and economic growth. Besides research and innovation it covers important societal issues such as climate change, energy efficiency and human health. The Innovation Union does pursue the aim to integrate innovational and technological research into production processes and business models as well as it includes innovation in the public sector. Doing so, it interconnects excellent scientific research with the market and develops well-organized networks within the EU. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure territorial and social cohesion throughout Europe and to pool resources in research and innovation to create an innovation-friendly environment benefiting society and economy.

Key Initiatives of the Innovation Union

Within the Innovation Union alone there are more than 30 action points out of which three key initiatives aim to:

  • Make Europe a world-class performer in science
  • Revolutionize the way the public and private sectors work together (Innovation Partnerships)
  • Remove bottlenecks to create new markets for skills, patents, venture capital and standards to quickly implement ideas on the free market.

In order to fulfil this challenging task the Heads of State, the European Parliament and the European Commission act together as a supportive network to encourage the process of development.

Other areas of focus are the following: 

  •  Investment in highly skilled and flexible people to be able to adjust to globalization and fast-changing economies and job markets
  • Increasing research, development and innovation through stronger cooperation between research institutes, universities and businesses
  • Create a more dynamic and easily accessible business environment
  • Reduce environmental impacts and promote green and sustainable technologies


How to support STI?

For over three decades, the EU has organized its STI policies using several multiannual framework programmes with Horizon 2020 being the most recent one. It sticks out as a research framework programme that is seen to be the key to strengthen the EU’s excellent status in developing innovative technologies. Besides improving STI policies, it is further designed to find responses to upcoming problems such as demographic change, energy supplies, climate change, public health, water security and food resources. To achieve these ambitious goals a funding of almost €80 billion will be available from 2014-2020.



"Europe 2020: Commission proposes new economic strategy", European Commission. Retrieved 5 March 2010.

European Commision (2013): Innovation Union - A pocket guide on a Europe 2020 initiative. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

European Commision (2014): The European Union explained - Research and Innovation, URL: (Last accessed: 27.01.2015).

Konnect (2014): EU STI Policy & Info, URL: (Last accessed: 27.01.2015)