Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

R&D spending falls by €1bn in the EU

Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, November 30th 2021 à 15:25 | Read 414 times

EU. Research and development (R&D) expenditure in the European Union (EU) Member States amounted to around €311 billion in 2020. According to a Eurostat study published on Monday 29 November 2021, this figure shows a drop of €1bn compared to 2019 (€312bn). In 2010, R&D intensity was 2.0%.

R&D represented 2.3% of EU GDP in 2020 compared to 2.2% in 2019. This slight increase, however, only reflects the decrease in GDP impacted by Covid-19. "R&D is an important driver of innovation, and R&D expenditure and intensity are two of the main indicators used to monitor the resources devoted to science and technology in the world," the EU statistical office points out.

In 2020, the highest intensity is found in the northern countries, particularly Belgium and Sweden (both 3.5%), Austria (3.2%), Germany (3.1%), Denmark (3.0%) and Finland (2.9%). Those in the South are at the bottom of the league in this area, notably Malta and Cyprus which, with 0.7% and 0.9% respectively, are among the six Member States with an R&D figure below 1% of GDP.

Greece second highest increase over ten years

Southern countries lag behind in R&D spending (graph: Eurostat)
Southern countries lag behind in R&D spending (graph: Eurostat)
France is only in seventh place (2.4%) in this ranking. Slovenia, the second Mediterranean country (and ninth in the EU), devoted 2.2% of its GDP to R&D in 2020, Portugal 1.6%, Greece, like Italy, 1.5%, Spain 1.4% and Croatia 1.3%. With the exception of France, the South of Europe is therefore performing below the European average.

In contrast, over the last ten years, Greece has increased by 0.9 percentage points, from 0.6% to 1.5%, the highest increase of all Member States after Belgium (+1.5 points).

The Eurostat note also states that "the business sector remains the main sector in which R&D expenditure was spent, accounting for 66% of total R&D expenditure in 2020, followed by the higher education sector (22%), the public sector (12%) and the private non-profit sector (1%)." Data total exceeds 100% due to rounding.

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