Press Release

Research and Development (R&D): Belgium passes the 3% of GDP mark for the first time

According to the R&D survey carried out by the Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) among the public, private, private non-profit and education sectors, Belgium exceeds for the first time the European target of 3% of GDP invested in research and development. In 2019, the R&D-GDP expenditure ratio reaches 3,17%

All the data from the R&D survey have just been transmitted by BELSPO to Eurostat.

As a reminder, this 3% objective was set by the European Union in 2002 by the Barcelona European Council, as part of the Lisbon strategy. Since then, Belgium, like the other Member States of the European Union, has been pursuing this objective.

More good news from the survey:

  • Both Wallonia and Flanders exceed the 3% target. Brussels logically does not reach this percentage (notably because its GDP is very high and reaches some 18% of that of the country) but continues to progress like the other 2 Regions ;
  • All sectors are progressing: business, government, higher education & private non-profit ;
  • The number of R&D workers is also increasing in the country to reach 93,524.32 full-time equivalents ;

With these good figures, Belgium joins the leading group of European countries in terms of R&D investments.

"These figures show that Belgium is a land of research and development. The symbolic milestone of 3% has been largely passed, but this will not prevent us from doing everything we can to further strengthen this R&D intensity, which contributes to building a competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy," rejoices Secretary of State for Science Policy Thomas Dermine.

"This progress is an excellent indicator of Belgium as an economic area that welcomes innovation in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, with our strategic sectors including: biopharmaceuticals, electronics, manufacturing of machinery and equipment, computer programming and consultancy", adds the Secretary of State.

"As we have witnessed with the Covid crisis, research and development, and fundamental research in particular, are crucial to the resilience of our economies in times of crisis. It is thanks to the intensity of research in Belgium and in Europe that we were able to provide rapid responses to the crisis," illustrates Thomas Dermine.

"These excellent figures on research and development come after the European figures published a few days ago, which placed Belgium among the European champions of innovation. Our country is therefore a driving force in research, development and innovation. We should be pleased about this, both for the development of Belgium and for our country's contribution to the progress of science and technology in relation to essential issues (climate, health, environment, etc.)," insists Thomas Dermine.

"Research and development are an important axis of Belgium's Recovery and Resilience Plan, with nearly 800 million additional invested. We will continue our efforts to increase the public share of research and development expenditure in the coming years," he continued.

"I am convinced that a strong science policy is a vector of progress and positive externalities for the development of our societies: both fundamental and applied research," concludes the Secretary of State.