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Switzerland outranks EU on innovation27th of March 2014
Switzerland far surpasses the EU when it comes to innovation, new statistics from the European Commission reveal. However it is uncertain how long the country can hold its top spot, as the Swiss continue to distance themselves from the EU.
The results of the report come just weeks after the European Commission announced it would freeze negotiations over Switzerland's participation in the EU's multi-billion-euro research programme, Horizon 2020, and the student exchange program Erasmus+.
The EU decision came in response to the Swiss referendum 'Against Mass Immigration', held last month, which reintroduced immigration quotas on EU nationals.
Following the vote the Swiss government called off negotiations to expand free movement of people with EU newcomer Croatia. But the European Commission attacked the Swiss decision, saying it violates the bilateral agreement on the free movement of persons.
Swiss researchers and academics fear their country risks losing its strong international position as a dynamic centre for research as a result of the decision. Swiss companies are also concerned about their competitiveness.
Sweden and Denmark rank first and second in terms of innovation in the EU, with Germany in third position.
The worst performers in the ranking were Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania - their innovation performance lies "far beneath the EU average".
Ranking on innovation performance is based on various factors: from research and academic sectors, innovative activities of companies and intellectual capital to innovation in SMEs and the economic effects, reflecting balanced national research and innovation systems.
As well as Switzerland,South Korea, the United States and Japan also outrank the EU in innovation terms. While the gap between the EU and the US or Japan has decreased by roughly a half in recent years, South Korea's lead has increased.
The EU maintained its lead against Australia, Canada and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).