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Research and innovation
News article25 November 2019Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

Innovation principle makes EU laws smarter and future-oriented, experts say

The innovation principle has the potential to contribute to the quality and future-proof nature of EU legislation, but significant efforts are needed for this potential to fully materialise in law-making. This is one of the main findings of the independent expert report on the innovation principle published today.

The innovation principle is a tool to help achieve EU policy objectives by ensuring that legislation is designed in a way that creates the best possible conditions for innovation to flourish. The report assessed the Commission’s initial experience with designing more innovation-oriented EU rules by applying the principle and the pilot innovation deals.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said:

Well-designed laws can support and foster innovation that protect people’s health and the environment. Today’s report confirms that using the innovation principle in EU policy-making is essential in addressing key challenges, such as climate change and cancer; it will help us get more value out of our research funding and deliver solutions for a European Green Deal.

Key findings from the independent expert report include:

  • The innovation principle needs to have a definition that highlights the contribution of innovation and technology to fulfil social and environmental objectives;
  • Innovation and precaution, particularly taking precautionary measures when scientific evidence is uncertain, can co-exist in legislative design and reinforce each other. The Commission should clarify in official documents that the innovation principle does not entail a de-regulatory approach, as has sometimes been misunderstood;
  • Regulatory innovation should be linked to sustainable development, R&D investment and the growth of start-ups in the EU single market;
  • The next wave of innovation deals needs to be more agile, put together teams composed of versatile stakeholders, including civil society, and more easily lead to an experimental phase such as low-regulatory zones that allow innovative testing (sandbox schemes).

The report will be discussed during the high-level conference “The Innovation Principle – Developing an innovation-friendly legislative culture” organised by the Finnish Presidency in Helsinki on 3 December 2019. 


The innovation principle as understood and applied by the Commission promotes smart and future oriented regulation able to encourage new discoveries and solutions to address the most pressing social and environmental issues.

The innovation deals are voluntary agreements between innovators, regional or national authorities and the Commission. They address perceived obstacles to innovative solutions and are meant to help regulators understand the difficulties faced by innovators by identifying the source of obstacles and gathering feedback about possible ways to address them.


Publication date
25 November 2019
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation