As the COVID-19 crisis reaches new levels, the European Union is preparing to address an unprecedented post-Corona reality with the development of an EU economic recovery policy and a realigned Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF). In a statement published on 26 May, European regions and innovation stakeholders jointly call on the European institutions to use the EU Interregional Innovation Investment instrument to unleash the innovation potential available in Europe’s regions for Europe’s recovery.
The current crisis has illustrated the dependence of the EU on external providers for strategic goods, for whole or parts of the value chains of antibiotics and painkillers as well as protective masks and medical equipment, with a weak EU capacity to react in a collaborative manner in first instance. Nevertheless, many regional innovation ecosystems across Europe have responded to the outbreak rapidly. Key technologies like biotechnology and 3D-printing have been mobilised to create innovative solutions, by bottom-up collaboration between stakeholders within regional innovation ecosystems.
EU regional innovation collaboration support-tools will play a key role during the next MFF period to achieve EU economic recovery. To this regard, European regions, clusters, RTOs and other innovation stakeholders jointly call on the European institutions to use the Interregional Innovation Investment instrument to unleash the innovation potential available in Europe’s regions. This new instrument, proposed by the European Commission in the 2018 MFF proposal and supported by the European Parliament and Council, entails a coordinated approach for innovation related investments in the development of interregional value chains across the EU. It supports the creation of interregional public-private innovation partnerships that can strengthen our European industrial ecosystems and their key value chains, paving the way for follow up financing by private investors. Guided by the Regional Smart Specialisation (RIS3) principles and supported by the Smart Specialisation Platforms, it allows enhanced efficiency and avoids duplication. This new instrument is fully in line with the EU’s strategic orientations in terms of Cohesion Policy and beyond: it will serve EU economic recovery based on the new EU Industrial Strategy. Such Interregional Innovation Investments will support sustainable and inclusive recovery and growth in the EU.
The COVID-19 crisis has an asymmetric impact at territorial level. Regions, sectors and companies across Europe will be affected differently, with SMEs being the most hardly hit. A major part of the policy responses will lie in regional hands. Therefore, the European Institutions should ensure that the revised MFF and the EU Economic Recovery Plan have a strong territorial dimension, providing adequate budget and involving regional authorities in the governance of the European tools based on interregional cooperation.
Crucial decisions are being taken to tackle the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. This crisis can be a trigger to rebuild our economies differently while making them more resilient. The Interregional Innovation Investments instrument can, with a relevant budget, play a key role in shortening and strengthening EU industrial supply chains and creating the complete value chains that are crucial to strengthen the EU economy, to secure Europe’s innovation capacity and to create a strong European industrial base.