Innovation Union

The European Union adopts a new strategic approach to innovation. The initiative presented by the Commission as part of the Europe 2020 strategy aims at improving conditions for innovation throughout all stages of research and development. This initiative should also have a positive impact on employment, green growth and social progress in the EU by 2020.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 October 2010 Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative: Innovation Union [COM(2010) 546 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The European Union (EU) prepares a new research and innovation policy as part of the Europe 2020 strategy. This new approach aims in particular at supporting innovation in fields that represent challenges for European society, such as climate change, energy efficiency, food safety, health and the ageing population.

In this regard, as one of the objectives to be reached in 2020, 3 % of the EU’s gross domestic product is to be invested in research and development.

Developing knowledge and skills

Education and training systems must be modernised, particularly to promote science teaching, interdisciplinary university programmes and e-skills.

In addition, the European Research Area should be established before 2014, facilitating researchers’ mobility and cooperation. The EU and the Member States must also work together to build priority European research infrastructures, and on international scientific and technological cooperation.

Encouraging innovative companies

Innovative companies must have better access to markets and finance. They should therefore be offered diversified sources of funding, in particular by the establishment of a European risk capital fund. Furthermore, their cross-border activities should not be hindered by tax barriers.

Companies’ activities in the internal market are to be facilitated, particularly by the introduction of a European patent and a unified system of dispute settlement, but also by improving the interoperability of products and innovative systems.

Promoting creativity

The Innovation Union encourages joint research initiatives and technology transfers between Member States. Intellectual property rights and free access to the results of public research should also promote creativity.

Increasing social and territorial cohesion

Current and future financing granted by structural funds should be used to promote innovation. In particular, it should be used to finance national innovation systems, smart specialisation strategies, cross-border projects and social innovation.

Establishing partnerships for innovation

The Innovation Union promotes a new approach based on partnerships between the regional, national and European stakeholders involved throughout the chain of research and innovation.

Such partnerships are aimed at areas for which government intervention is clearly justified and stakeholders’ cooperation is more effective. The Commission has selected a series of interdependent conditions for partnerships’ success. They must:

Leveraging external policies

The EU must become attractive to academia, researchers and highly skilled third country nationals. In addition, European external policy should promote scientific cooperation and international research strategies.

See also

Last updated: 04.03.2011