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Policy Contribution

Undercutting the future? European research spending in times of fiscal consolidation

Are R&D budgets being smartly used to address growth? How is the crisis affecting public Research & Development budgets across the EU?

By: Date: June 9, 2014 Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

The crisis seems to have widened the gap between EU countries in public R&I expenditure. Even though the EU budget serves as mechanism to somewhat ease the growing public R&I divide in Europe – EU funds are relatively more significant for innovation-lagging countries with low national R&I budgets – it is crucial to assess whether the effectiveness of these R&I programmes.

Understanding the degree to which public R&I budgets in the EU have been used ‘smartly’ during the crisis and whether the EU has made ‘smart’ recommendations on public R&I in the European Semester requires an assessment of the long-term impact on growth.

Smart consolidation featuring R&I investment needs to take a long-term perspective and to have sound evaluation frameworks in place to assess whether the potential for high growth returns from public R&I are indeed being realised. Evaluating the effectiveness of public R&I budgets should go beyond assessing short-term additionality impacts. Smart fiscal consolidation by EU member states should include assessments of the longer-term social rates of return.

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Past Event

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Reinhilde Veugelers' chapter in "Investment and Growth in Advanced Economies", conference volume of the European Central Bank’s Forum on central banking in Sintra.

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Blog Post

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A country’s relative strength in exporting a certain product is likely to persist. But it is easier to gain a comparative advantage in exporting low carbon products. When it comes to R+D, strength in a certain technological field is much less linked to past specialisation. This also holds for low carbon technologies. Finally, our preliminary findings are consistent with the view that R+D can help a country specialise in clean technology exports. However, we are not yet able to show that policy action supporting R+D in clean technologies is a sensible way to develop a comparative export advantage in these sectors.

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External Publication

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Podcast

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