The Economic Environment: Eveyone seems to agree on one point: the competitiveness of the European chemical industry is primarily a result of its innovative strength. However, in view of the regulatory environment in which we find ourselves in a Europe which is about to unify, there is a great risk that this creative momentum will slow because of a regulatory system which is far too restraining.
Such a development will have serious repercussions on the future of Europe’s chemical industry, particularly since research by Europe’s principal competitors, both in Japan and the United States, continues to increase (ECU 11,000 million for Japan and ECU 13,000 million for the United States). These considerations must convince the authorities and the general public that research is of crucial importance to tbe competitive position of European industry.
By spending an estimated 3% of its GNP on research, Switzerland clearly leads the group of industrialized nations. However, although Switzerland is exemplary in this regard, one should recognize that what is important for the pursuit of certain major projects is the value of the critical mass which is required to reach a satisfactory level of efficiency. It is evident that, viewed from this angle, the absolute value for a small country such as Switzerland compares unfavorably with that of the countries in which its major competitors are located.