The Europe 2020 Strategy set a 3% objective for R&D intensity for the EU as a whole and most Member States have adopted a national R&D intensity target for 2020. The European Semester, the EU's annual cycle of economic policy coordination, undertakes a detailed analysis of the EU Member States’ plans for R&I investment and structural reforms of national R&I systems, and provides them with recommendations.
The Annual Growth Survey 2016 highlighted that investing in R&I at national level is critical for growth and that therefore Member States should continue to prioritise public investments in R&I, ensuring their efficiency and leverage with regard to business investment. Member States need to keep up the pace of reforms to ensure an investment-friendly environment. See more information about the European Semester.
The European Semester supports Member States' structural reforms in different policy areas to promote jobs, growth and investment. Research and innovation play a key role in this context. That is why the Commission gives recommendations to and closely work with the Member States to increase the performance of their national R&I systems.
Have a look and see how the country is performing.
Italy shows low R&D investment compared to other EU countries. In 2014, Italy’s overall R&D intensity amounted to 1.29%, while the EU average was 2.03%. The gap with the EU average is higher for R&D expenditure by private businesses (0.72% in Italy vs. 1.30% in the EU) than by the public sector (0.53% in Italy vs. 0.72% in the EU).
At the same time, structural weaknesses affect Italy’s R&D system. The relative scarcity of highly-skilled human resources, the lack of career prospects and competitive salaries for researchers and the weak cooperation between academia and business hold back Italy’s innovative performance and do not allow the transition of the economic fabric towards high-tech knowledge-intensive services and manufacturing activities.
In recent years, Italy has taken a number of policy initiatives to support its research and innovation system but their fragmentation remains a concern. The effectiveness and impact of those measures might be limited if an overarching innovation strategy is not put in place. Moreover, the National Research Programme 2014-2020, which was presented for the first time in February 2014, has not been approved yet.