CIAA welcomes EU Innovation Union Flagship Communication and calls for an “Innovation Union” for Europe’s food and drink industry

Posted: 7 October 2010 | CIAA | No comments yet

Europe’s food and drink industry welcomes the EU’s Innovation Strategy Communication…

Europe’s food and drink industry welcomes the EU’s Innovation Strategy Communication...

Europe’s food and drink industry welcomes the EU’s Innovation Strategy Communication, a flagship 2020 initiative designed to stimulate competitiveness and growth across the EU.

Effective R&D and innovation are drivers of growth in Europe’s food and drink industry, which is the single largest manufacturing sector in Europe (using 70% of EU agricultural production; with a turnover of 965 billion euro; and providing direct employment for 4.4 million people). However, across Europe, investment in R&D represents only 0.37% of food and drink output – lower than in other developed countries such as the US and Japan.

CIAA welcomes the Commission’s integrated and strategic approach set out in the Communication, and the recognition that effective partnerships between industry, the scientific community and policymakers are needed to achieve sound results.

With more than 99% of the companies in the food and drink sector comprising of SMEs, CIAA is pleased to see the importance given to engaging with SME’s in order to help them remain more competitive, and to ensure that innovative ideas can be effectively brought to market.

Priorities for Europe’s food and drink industry include:

  • Increasing R&D strategy and funding;
  • Coordinating research in Europe and preventing duplication;
  • Promoting SME participation, specific programmes and networks;
  • Optimising knowledge generation and sharing between Member States and SMEs;
  • Focusing, aligning and collaborating transnationally and internationally;
  • Increasing multi-disciplinary approaches; and
  • Developing a regulatory framework which encourages innovation.

Europe’s food and drink industry also has an important part to play in delivering innovative solutions to societal challenges such as addressing food security in the context of climate change; becoming more efficient in our use of resources; and tackling nutrition and health challenges. CIAA is an active stakeholder in driving this process forward.

CIAA also calls for consensus building around new and emerging technologies such as nanotechnology; as well as the need to address current regulatory hurdles which slow down or hamper innovation, for example, around the Novel Foods Regulation.

Speaking following the publication of the Commission’s Communication, CIAA President, Jesús Serafín Pérez commented: “Smart innovation driven by consumer needs, is vital to stimulate further growth and employment in the food and drink sector, and prevent Europe from falling behind other manufacturing regions, where there is already a competitiveness gap. The Commission’s new innovation strategy, combined with a broader industrial policy, and recently established Food Chain Effectiveness Forum, represent a major step forward in tackling these issues, and opening up real opportunities for an ‘Innovation Union’’ for Europe’s food and drink industry.”

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