Combler le fossé technologique américano européen

Dans la seconde moitié des années 1990, le taux de croissance annuel moyen de la productivité en Europe s'élevait à 0,7 % tandis que les Etats-Unis affichaient 1,4 %. Toutefois, si nous établissons une distinction entre les industries qui produisent des technologies d'information et de communication (TIC) et celles qui se contentent d'utiliser ces technologies, il apparaît alors que le fossé de croissance de la productivité résulte presque entièrement de la faiblesse du secteur européen de production de TIC. La croissance annuelle de la productivité dans des secteurs qui utilisent les technologies TIC a totalisé en moyenne 0,63 % aux Etats-Unis entre 1995 et 2000 contre 0,41 % en Europe.

Cette situation confirme un fait bien connu : l'Europe est moins efficace que les Etats-Unis pour mener des recherches débouchant sur des innovations soit parce que l'Europe alloue moins de ressources à la recherche, soit parce que les ressources disponibles sont utilisées de manière moins efficace, ou les deux.

Il est certain que les dépenses totales en matière de recherche et de développement sont moins élevées en Europe qu'aux Etats-Unis, mais pas de beaucoup. Dans les années 1990, les Etats-Unis consacraient tous les ans 2,8 % de leur PNB à la recherche et au développement, contre 2,3 % pour l'Allemagne, 2 % au RU et 1,9 % en France. Les gouvernements européens continuent comme à leur habitude de se plaindre du manque de ressources fiscales pour soutenir la recherche et le développement (un argument tiré par les cheveux étant donné la part minuscule de dépenses allouées à la recherche dans des budgets européens démesurés) et, chaque fois que la Commission Européenne les y autorise, ils subventionnent des entreprises novatrices ou celles qui, selon eux, sont les plus susceptibles d'investir dans la recherche et le développement.

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