Research Cash Must Reach Poorer Areas

21 November 2005
Research and Development funding should not be restricted to elite and wealthy areas according to Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith. Mr Smith also called on European leaders not to cut spending levels for R & D in the next EU budget, and to back the establishment of Regions of Knowledge.

The research and development budget is being threatened by the failure of the UK government to reach a budget deal with the rest of Europe and by UK government plans to significantly reduce levels of EU spending.

Mr Smith has produced a report on the regional dimension of Research and Development spending (the 7th Framework programme 2007-13) for the Parliament's regional committee and is calling for funding to assist companies, universities and SME's who have not traditionally benefited.

The report also calls for European R & D funding bodies to work more closely with other EU funds.

Speaking after today's (Tuesday) meeting of the Regional Development Committee in Brussels Mr Smith said

"Research and development is now seen as essential for the future economic development of Europe and increasingly for Scotland. Without real investment in R & D and good quality programmes we will not be able to meet Europe's or even Scotland's economic targets or make progress with the Lisbon agenda. That makes it even more important that Tony Blair and his colleagues do not cut the amount of cash available and that what money there is goes to the right places."

"At present we have one European fund aimed at improving competitiveness in regions and another with the tools to do it through R & D spending, what we need is for the two funds to work more closely and to work at a regional level."

"If we are serious about building Regions of Knowledge across Europe, expanding and increase the research excellence we have, and boosting both big businesses and SMEs with competitive and innovative developments we must ensure that the money is not continually used to fund areas that already have established research infrastructures and knowledge bases."


Notes to editors:

Europe and Mr Smith's draft opinion on the seventh framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-13) is available from the European Parliament Regional Development Committee website.