Trends in R&D Expenditure in the EU

The latest numbers for research and development in the European Union have been collated and show that in the period for 2015 R&D expenditure remained stable at just over 2% of GDP. Almost two thirds of this was spent by the business sector.

In 2015, member states of the EU spent almost €300 billion on R&D. The intensity, i.e. R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, remained at just over 2% which was the same as in the period for 2014. However, this figure is substantially higher than for R&D a decade ago at 1.7%.

Compared with other major economies, R&D in the EU was much lower than in South Korea (4.3% in 2014), Japan (3.6% in 2014) and the USA (2.7% in 2013), although it is roughly the same as in China (2% in 2014) and significantly higher than in Russia (1.13% in 2014). This is one of the reasons for the EU’s 2020 Strategy which aims to raise R&D intensity to 3% by 2020.

The business sector remains the most active sector in R&D expenditure, accounting for 64% of total R&D deployed in 2015. This was followed by the higher education sector (23%), the government sector (12%) and the not-for-profit sector (1%).

Within the EU, a number of member states where above 3% for R&D intensity: Sweden, Norway and Denmark, with Germany at 2.87%.

Photo credit: Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from eurostat.

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