Urges Western Europe to Keep Up With U.S., Japan : Kohl Calls for Emphasis on High Tech
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl opened an 18-nation conference Tuesday by urging Western Europe to keep up with the United States and Japan in high-technology research and production.
“Technology is our destiny,” Kohl said. He called on the delegates to push their companies into high-technology projects.
The meeting, which is taking place in the north German city of Hanover, is designed to develop a program among the attending nations--members of the European Community plus Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Turkey--to build cooperation between companies and research institutes.
Kohl said these projects should be financed mainly by private companies, with government support limited to high-risk areas.
“Basically, it is up to companies to finance their own projects,” he said, “but my government is also willing to provide financial support for interesting, selective Eureka projects.”
The Eureka program-- eureka is a Greek word meaning “I have found it"--was suggested last April by French President Francois Mitterrand as a European counterweight to the United States and Japan, which lead the way in high technology. It was also to be a civilian counterpart of the U.S. crash research program for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, the “Star Wars” program.
France has pledged about $125 million toward Eureka research, but no specific projects have been scheduled.
The lack of specific goals has led some critics to charge that Eureka is too fuzzy a concept for the governments to support. In some governments, there is disagreement on whether market forces should dictate the programs or whether the nations should collaborate on such state-subsidized goals as international pollution control.
Further, the smaller nations are worried that the larger countries--West Germany, France, Britain and Italy--might control international projects. Holland, for example, wants to set up a Eureka secretariat to ensure that all interested countries get a fair share of the projects. But the larger nations do not wish to see another European bureaucracy set up like the European Community in Brussels.