EU biotechnology strategy reports limited progress.

EU biotechnology strategy reports limited progress.

European biotechnologists have greeted the latest report on the EU Life Sciences and Biotechnology Strategy with little enthusiasm despite the Commission’s assurance that progress has been made.

’Sadly, this year’s progress report is not reporting much progress,’ says Feike Sijbesma, chairman of EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries. Concerns centre largely on the failure of several Member States to adopt EU rules in favour of their own national policies. Eight member states, for example, have yet to implement the EU regulations on genetically modified organisms, even though these countries had originally campaigned for the legislation.

’We acknowledge the EU Commission’s efforts in trying to strengthen the scientific and technological basis of Europe and to improve its global competitiveness,’ said EuropaBio secretary Johan Vanhemelrijk in a statement released in response to the Commission’s report. ’But member states need to give more support to the Commission’s efforts.’

Another aspect of the EU Strategy requiring urgent attention, according to EuropaBio, is the EU Competitiveness in Biotechnology Advisory Group (CBAG), which was launched last year to advise the Commission on Strategy implementation. CBAG is calling for an EU-wide stock market to improve the access of private biotech companies to finance, a move strongly approved by EuropaBio.

This is the second annual report on the EU Strategy, recording progress and pitfalls met since it was launched in January 2002. The report concludes that considerable progress has been made, but acknowledges the failure of several member states to implement agreed legislation.

The great challenge for 2004, say Commissioners, is to ensure that the Strategy is implemented in a coherent way across the Union. With this in mind, the Commission plans to launch a more concerted effort between itself, member states and the private sector.

Bea Perks