Europe must continue to invest in ICT-related research and development during the economic downturn, European Union commissioner Viviane Reding told delegates at ICT 2008 in Lyon. "At this time of economic uncertainty, we must remember that the ICT [information and communication technology] sector provides the heartbeat of the real economy, of our productivity growth, of our capacity to innovate and create jobs, and of our ability to address key societal challenges," she said. "Cuts in public and private R&D spending may be tempting, but this could irreversibly damage our economies and the ability to recover."
Reding cited a workable identity card as one area for ICT research and innovation, adding that an electronic identity management infrastructure would lead to more business efficiency and citizen-friendly services. E-government and e-commerce stand to benefit from trustworthy services.
Reding noted that the EU private sector spends only half as much as its U.S. counterpart on ICT research a year, while the public sector spends about 40 percent of the U.S. level. Reding plans to introduce a proposal on innovation and investment for research next year.