BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — Europe has not significantly increased research spending in more than 20 years and will miss a target to invest more by 2010, a think tank report said Tuesday.
Independent think tank Bruegel warned that Chinese research spending is now closing in on the European Union, which invested 1.8 percent of gross domestic product in research in 2006, a level that has not changed much since the early 1980s.
Many governments — including France, Britain and the Netherlands — have cut research and development funding in real terms and have not done enough to encourage companies to invest their own money, it said.
The report's author, Bruno van Pottlesbergh, a professor at Brussels' Francophone Free University, said governments are well aware of the need for more research, but have failed to take the hard decisions needed to spend money and make real changes.
''And that is alarming, especially if you see the evolution of China,'' he said.
Aiming to boost their economy and create new jobs, EU nations committed to spending 3 percent of gross domestic product on research and development by 2010.
Governments have not played their part, the report said, as no EU nation has met a commitment to spending 1 percent of GDP on research.
Van Pottlesbergh said Europe has also failed to tackle the high cost of patents that he claims holds businesses back from investing in research that could generate new technology and higher returns.
Securing a 20-year patent across 13 European countries costs euro20,000 (around US$30,000) — or 11 times more than the euro1,800 (US$2,700) it would cost in the U.S. and 14 times more than the euro1,500 (US$2,200) fee in Japan, the report says.
Van Pottlesbergh said governments should also be investing more in universities which can spark research in the wider economy — or risk seeing more firms shift research jobs to China and India.
EU leaders will talk about what reforms they should be doing to speed up their economies by 2010 when they meet for a March 13-14 summit.