"Our mission is to assist in the reformation of Ukraine consistent with European standards, as well as to introduce democratic values and develop civil society in Ukraine."

From the Statute of
the Center for European Initiatives

11.01.09 14:10

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


The Czech Presidency of the EU and the European Commission launched on Wednesday the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 with the slogan “Imagine. Create. Innovate.” The Year was inaugurated during a ceremony in Prague by Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The aim of the Year is to promote creative and innovative approaches in different sectors of human activity and help equip the European Union for the challenges ahead in a globalized world.

A conference to mark the launch of the Year was held in Prague on Wednesday, 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 an evening ceremony in the National Theatre in Prague.

The European Year, starting against the backdrop of the current economic crisis, had many speakers underline 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, Culture and Youth, Jan Figel said in his address.

The Prague conference was preceded in the morning of 7 January by a round table attended by several Ambassadors of the Year and presided over by Esko Aho, Executive Vice President of Nokia and Former Prime Minister of Finland. Among the participants were the German inventor Karlhienz Brandenburg, French researcher Dominique Langevin, Hungarian creator Ernő Rubik, and Romanian producer Radu Mihăileanu, together with leading businessmen, artists and designers. These eminent personalities adopted a set of recommendations for EU governments and institutions which were presented by Mr Aho at the afternoon conference. 

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. It would be a fundamental mistake to cut research and development, and education spending in the context of the current crisis, stressed the document, according to which creativity and innovation are tools to tackle Europe’s challenges, including the move to a knowledge society, demographic change, globalization, and climate change. 

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. 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.