Boosting Creativity and Innovation in Europe: Official launch of the European Year 2009 in Prague

The Czech Presidency of the EU launched the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 on 7 January with the slogan "Imagine, Create, Innovate"

The European Year of Innovation and Creativity (EYCI) aims to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation as key competences for personal, social and economic development. By emphasizing these priorities, the EU aims at shaping Europe's future in a global competition by fostering the creative and innovative potential in all of us. The Year is conceived as a horizontal, cross-cutting exercise involving many areas. Apart from education and culture, it involves enterprise, regional and research policies, energy, transport, environment and the information society.

The Year was inaugurated during a ceremony in Prague by the President José Manuel Barroso and the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. At the accompanying launch conference, the Ambassadors for the Year presented a report on creativity and innovation in the EU, whose message is that investment in education and in the skills and creative capacity of Europe should be the top priority of EU institutions and governments.

The conference to mark the launch of the Year was held in Prague on Wednesday afternoon, and was attended by a host of personalities including high representatives of EU member states, of the European Commission, members of the Czech government and several Ambassadors of the Year. The Conference ran in parallel to the meeting between the Commission and the Czech Government and was followed by the evening inauguration ceremony in the National Theatre in Prague.

The European Year begins against the backdrop of the current economic crisis, and many speakers underlined that boosting creativity and innovation is part of the solution. ”We do not know how long this crisis will last and how deep it will become. But when it is over, those who will have invested in creativity and innovation will find themselves well ahead of the pack," the European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', said in his address.

The Prague conference was preceded in the morning of 7 January by a round table discussion attended by several Ambassadors of the Year and presided by Esko Aho, Executive Vice President of Nokia and Former Prime Minister of Finland.

These eminent personalities adopted a set of recommendations for EU governments and institutions which were presented by Mr Aho at the afternoon conference. These are available on the dedicated website of the Year, http://www.create2009.europa.eu.

German inventor Prof. Karlheinz Brandenburg, French researcher Dominique Langevin, Hungarian architect and designer Ernő Rubik and Romanian film director Radu Mihăileanu participated at this event, together with other top businessmen, artists and designers.

The Ambassadors expressed their commitment to contribute to the success of the Year and to foster long-term debate on creativity and innovation, which are crucial for Europe’s future position in the world. There was unanimous consensus that investment in education and in the skills and creative capacity of Europe should be the top priority of EU institutions and governments. The Ambassadors stressed that it would be a fundamental mistake to cut research & development and education spending in the context of the current crisis. For them, creativity and innovation are vital tools to tackle Europe's challenges, including demographic change, globalisation, climate change, and the transition of the EU to being a knowledge-based society.

The EU will offer a framework for raising awareness of the issues concerned and promoting a policy debate on how to increase Europe's creative and innovative potential. As was the case in previous European Years, the activities will include promotion campaigns, events and initiatives at European, national, regional and local levels. Already in the first days of 2009 it has attracted a lot of interest from the Member States, regions, companies, artistic circles and civil society.

Six public debates on key topics relating to Creativity and Innovation will be held in Brussels during the Year to provide a platform for reflection and exchange of ideas which can contribute to policy discussion on Creativity and Innovation. They will cover such issues as cultural diversity, public sector, education, knowledge society, sustainable development or creative arts and industries.

For more information about the Year, the Ambassadors, and the events: http://www.create2009.europa.eu/

Date Added: January 19th 2009