The state of European science and technology is assessed by the European Commission in the Third European Report on Science and Technology Indicators 2003, released this week. It is a major "health check," running to almost 500 pages, and contains some reassurance, some surprises, and some causes for concern.

The Commission hails the EU as the "world's biggest brain factory," as it produces more science and technology graduates and PhDs than either the United States or Japan. But Europe struggles to retain the talent it produces. The US is attracting increasing numbers of European researchers, 75% of whom choose to stay there rather than returning home. The Commission attributes this to the "more competitive career and employment opportunities offered in the US."

The data also show that the EU is the world's largest producer of scientific publications. In many fields of research and development, however, Europe's advantages...

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