Rhein on Energy and Climate

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The European Patent Office in Munich has announced a 4 per cent rise of patent registrations in 2012, reaching a total of 258 000.

This reflects a globally improved business climate, intensive international research activity and the attractiveness of the European Patent Office as a place to register inventions.

A closer look reveals that the share of European companies in registrations has fallen to only 37 per cent, compared to 38 per cent in 2011. Japanese, Chinese and South Korean companies have succeeded in increasing their registrations much faster than their European competitors.

Five member countries (Germany, France, UK, NL and Italy) are still among the 10 countries with the biggest number of registrations; but leaving aside Germany (13.4 per cent of total) their combined share in the number of registrations is only twice that of South Korea.

This is reason to worry: the EU has so far failed to reach its goal of investing at least three per cent of GDP in R&D and is farther than ever away from becoming the foremost region of innovation.

China, South Korea and other Asian countries demonstrate superior performance.

EU leaders should therefore pick up David Cameron’s criticism about the decline of European international competitiveness and jointly develop a strategy to address this failure.

Brussels 28.01. 2012 Eberhard Rhein