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EU spending on R&D up 6.9% in 2021—but still short of GDP target

Bloc spent €331 billion on R&D, which was a 45 per cent increase over 10 years

EU spending on R&D increased by 6.9 per cent to reach €331 billion in 2021, final data for the year have confirmed.

The bloc’s statistics agency released data on 4 October that showed a 45 per cent increase in R&D spending across the EU from 2011-21.

Eurostat confirmed provisional figures on R&D spending as a percentage of GDP for the year at 2.27 per cent. This was a slight decrease from 2.3 per cent in 2020.

It said the R&D spending intensity decrease between the two years could be explained by GDP rebounding in 2021 after a significant drop in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The EU has a long-missed target to raise its investment in R&D to 3 per cent of GDP.

EU R&D spending intensity continues to lag South Korea on 4.93 per cent, the US on 3.46 per cent and Japan on 3.34 per cent.

Among the EU countries, the highest R&D intensity in 2021 was recorded in Belgium on 3.43 per cent, followed by Sweden on 3.4 per cent and Austria on 3.26 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum, six EU countries reported R&D spending intensity below 1 per cent of their GDP in 2021: Romania, Malta, Latvia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Slovakia.