Meager R&D spending to increase

  • 2011-08-03
  • From wire reports

RIGA - During a meeting in early July with European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis acknowledged that Latvia has decided to substantially increase the funding for science and research by 2020, up to 1.5 percent of GDP. Thereby, in the EU context, it is important to develop a sufficiently comfortable approach mechanism for scientists, as well as for entrepreneurs, writes the prime minister’s Web site.
In 2011, the total funding of the private sector for science and research will amount to an abysmal 0.6 percent of GDP. It is planned to increase this up to 1 percent by 2015, but in 2020 it will reach 1.5 percent of GDP, Dombrovskis said.
Even this level is comparatively low, when considering what leading developed nations spend as a percentage of national income to stay competitive.

Geoghegan-Quinn said she appreciated this decision and expressed the conviction that Latvia “will succeed in attaining this objective by current determination and discipline. By investing in innovations, the competitiveness of both Latvia and the EU will be strengthened and the long-term objective is to increase the funding for science up to 3 percent of GDP,” stressed the Commissioner.

She added that in the next financial perspective of the EU for 2014-2020, funding in the amount of 80 billion euros will be available for research, innovations and technology development, which is considerably more than in the current planning period from 2007-2013, providing funding in the amount of 55 billion euros for these objectives.
“The investments in practical applicable research and innovations are one of the most important strategic aspects of the EU’s economic strategy,” emphasized the Commissioner.

The prime minister mentioned that the greatest opportunities for investments lie in traditional industry sectors, where it is necessary to increase the value-added for Latvian products and services.
“In view of the limited domestic market of Latvia, the production should be export-oriented and during the last two years we have managed to re-orient it towards this direction,” said Dombrovskis.

He noted that “The production volumes this year have increased by 15 percent, while export volumes in Q1 of 2011 have increased even by 41 percent compared to Q1 of 2010. The production and exports have been, and still are, the main factors which have led Latvia out of the financial crisis and back to growth,” said the prime minister.

Dombrovskis and the Commissioner also discussed the EU budget proposal for the next financial perspective, and the prime minister noted that Latvia is not ready to agree to a proposal on setting the ceiling to the available cohesion funding in the amount of 2.5 percent of GDP for all countries, and stressed the need to rapidly move forward to equalize the amount of direct payments for farmers of old and new member states.