Much as in the United States, manufacturers in the European Union are proclaiming innovation key to maintaining competitiveness on the global playing field. That said, recent statistics show that research and development among EU countries appears to be stagnant.
According to preliminary results from Eurostat, R&D expenditures among EU countries in 2005 stood at 1.84% of gross domestic product, the same as in 2004. Top R&D performers were Sweden and Finland, which spent 3.86% and 3.48% of their GDP on R&D respectively. The lowest expenditures were among new members, such as Romania and Bulgaria.
It remains uncertain whether the EU can meet targets set by the Barcelona European Council in 2002 to invest 3% of GDP in research by 2010. The Barcelona target calls for two-thirds of R&D investment to come from the private sector.