Wednesday

22nd Feb 2017

Focus

China catching EU on innovation, amid industrial espionage scandals

  • The Chinese dragon is "breathing down Europe's neck" on research and innovation, Brussels says (Photo: Proggie)

China is catching up fast with the EU in research and innovation, according to a study published by the European Commission ahead of a meeting of EU leaders on the same issue. But industrial spying scandals in France and the US have painted China's economic ambitions in a disturbing light.

The US and Japan are way ahead of Europe, while China and Brazil are catching up fast with the old continent in the number of patents issued, private and public expenditure dedicated to research and development, and academic research on cutting-edge technologies, the EU's latest "Innovation Union Scoreboard 2010" shows.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Within the EU, Sweden is top, followed closely by Denmark, Finland and Germany. Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania are at the lower end.

"The scoreboard highlights the innovation emergency in Europe," EU commissioner for innovation, research and science, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn said. "If Europe stands still we will see the US disappear into the distance just as we feel emerging nations breathing down our necks."

A first meeting of EU leaders dedicated to innovation is to take place in Brussels on Friday (4 February), with the EU commission planning to put forward proposals to "radically" simplify community funding for R&D.

EU-wide recognition of patents – still a costly endeavour for European firms – is one of the bloc's biggest weaknesses, especially since China "continues rapidly to narrow its performance gap with the EU," the commission said in a statement.

Twelve member states, including France, Germany and the UK, have decided to go ahead with the so-called ehanced co-operation procedure to fast-track legislation on the single EU patent in the absence of an EU-27 agreement.

"Europe, where the modern scientific method was invented, is falling behind in both quality and quantity of ideas. On current trends, within a generation as little as 10 percent of the world's new 'ideas' may originate in Europe," said the Science/Business Innovation Board, a Brussels-based non-profit group.

China's dynamism in the research field has been tainted by a series of industrial espionage scandals in Europe and the United States, however.

In France, leaked intelligence reports accuse Beijing of using prostitutes, fake job offers and work experience students to gain industrial secrets from French companies. Quoted by Le Parisien, the classified documents refer to China as showing "curiosity" in all of the country's economic sectors. The leaked papers claim it is "as big a threat as America" in terms of industrial spying.

The allegations come weeks after three executives at car maker Renault were fired over releasing details of a proposed electric car to unnamed Chinese recipients. The trio denies the accusation.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a former engineer was last week sentenced to 32 years in prison for providing China with technical military data.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Noshir Gowadia got at least $110,000 from China after six trips to the country between 2003-2005 to assist with building a cruise missile system.

In a separate case, Glenn Shriver, a 29-year old has been sentenced to a four-year prison sentence in the US for trying to get a job with the CIA so that he could spy for China. Mr Shriver admitted he met Chinese officials about 20 times and received $70,000 to do the job.

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

MEPs and China mark change in relationship

Members of the five big political groups in the European Parliament have met with members of the one big political group in the National People's Congress of China, in what has been described as a “changing” and "very friendly" climate.

Crowded race to win EU medicines agency

As cities line up to take over the European Medicines Agency some fear a kerfuffle that could destabilise the agency's work and slow down the pace of approving new medicines.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  2. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  3. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  4. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  5. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  7. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  11. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe