European Institute of Technology promised

10 Jul 2007

A proposal to set up a European Institute of Technology (EIT) has been backed by an EU Industry Committee but MEPs want the institute’s name to include ‘innovation’.

MEPs also insist the EIT should only be established after a pilot phase in which two or three ‘knowledge and innovation communities’ (KICs) run projects to test its feasibibility.

“Innovation is Europe’s Achilles heel. It should be our main objective to increase our innovation capacity. We need more innovation in Europe to remain globally competitive in the future and to guarantee growth in jobs. The EIT could help us to realise that goal”, said EP rapporteur Reino Paasilinna.

Funding for the EIT could prove contentious as it did not exist when the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective for the EU was drawn up.

“I hope the commission and council will come up with a realistic solution for the budget soon. The council has already expressed its wish to establish the EIT but before we can adopt the proposal in plenary, we have to make sure that there is a stable financing concept,” Paasilinna said.

The institute’s overall budget of an estimated €2.4bn for the first six years is to be funded from a combination of private and public sources. The committee said it agrees with the commission that €308.7m should come from the community budget.
However, the European Parliament and Council of Ministers has yet to agree on funding for the EIT. As plans for it did not exist when the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective was decided, the commission proposed taking the necessary amount from the “margin under the ceiling” of the ‘Competitiveness for growth and jobs’ heading, ie appropriations that have not been assigned to a given policy.

Other proposed sources include unspent funds that would otherwise be returned to the member states or loans and contributions from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The EIT itself will not award degrees and diplomas but will ask for an EIT mark to be added to qualifications awarded through the higher education institutions within the KICs.

At the first reading report yesterday, committee members decided to rename the EIT the European Institute of Innovation and Technology to reflect its primary focus on innovation.

By Niall Byrne