Yoda: European Science-Policy Investment Recap

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Europe’s influential science-policy chief on his successes and disappointments

Robert-Jan Smits, the European Union’s departing director-general of research, sets out his parting thoughts.

I am sorry that I couldn’t find a way to get all member states to invest more in science.

I also regret not having been able to embed science and innovation in EU agricultural policy, which is very conservative and hard to penetrate.

…we plan a European Innovation Council to support highly innovative companies, particularly start-ups.

I managed to persuade Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, to classify R&D as investment rather than expenditure. This was a small but important psychological breakthrough that helped change mindsets.