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Urges Western Europe to Keep Up With U.S., Japan : Kohl Calls for Emphasis on High Tech

Times Staff Writer

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.

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“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.

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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.


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