Saturday, October 16, 2010

Almost three years to the day

When Commission Vice President Tajani launched the Innovation Union on 6th October 2010, it was almost exactly three years to the day since I had led the BEDA delegation comprising Severin Filek, Design Austria, (BEDA Past President); Isabel Roig, Director Barcelona Design Centre,(BEDA Board Member), and Henrique Cayatte, (centre in photograph), Director, Portuguese Design Centre (BEDA Board Member), to meet EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso in Lisbon on Monday 08 October 2008. I should point out that this meeting was the culmination of some ten years of lobbying by BEDA for design at the European Level.

On that morning during an hour-long meeting at his personal office in Lisbon, BEDA presented President Barroso with the need for the Commission to act coherently at the European level to maintain, develop and increase Europe’s unique design power.

We asked for his personal support, "in the creation of a strong European mechanism in order to build Europe’s design competence for the 21st century as a complementary strategy for Europe’s innovation performance."

At the close of the Meeting President Barroso asked us to meet with his then Commission Vice President Gunter Verheugen, a meeting which took place in January 2008 with myself and then BEDA Vice President Jan Stavik attending.

These two, seminal meetings, I believe, triggered and led to the current developments for design at the European level with the publication in April 2009 of the Commission Staff Working Document, 'Design as a driver of user-centred innovation' the incorporation of design in the Conclusions of the Council of Ministers, the introduction in 2010 of design into the EU Innovation Union and in 2011 the establishment of a European Leadership Board for Design.

There is much that remains to be done in order to ensure that design as an activity and strategic tool remains core to entrepreneurship and industry across Europe, (firmly placed within the innovation agenda), whilst also contributing as a key player within the wider framework of the creative industries.

Congratulations to all of the many, many people inside and outside the Commission who have played a part in making this dream a reality and in particular to the past and present Boards of BEDA with whom it has been a pleasure and a joy to work with.

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