Well-educated citizens are fundamental to each country’s economic development and a prerequisite for our societies welfare. However, today knowledge, innovation and education aren’t prioritized as they should be, both in Sweden and within the EU. If the EU is to become the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, it’s time to complement the EU’s existing four freedoms (the freedom of movement for people, goods, services and capital) with a fifth, namely freedom of knowledge to move freely across national borders in the EU.
To encourage foreign studies, it is important that Swedish colleges and universities promote the opportunities and facilitates for students to include a study period abroad in their programme. The Bologna process has made it easier to compare programmes and get their foreign studies credited in their degree. Whether studying to become a teacher, engineer or physician, it is an invaluable opportunity to discuss, debate and develop their ideas and at the same time acquire a broad European network for further academic studies, research and future working life.
If Sweden is to meet the challenges of globalization, we must be better at seeing international experiences and studies at European universities as something positive, for the individual student, for Swedish universities and for the country as a whole.
By ensuring that students and researchers in Europe have the opportunity to build a network and learn to collaborate across national borders, we can contribute to scientific progress and innovations – thus securing economic growth across our continent.
By making free movement of knowledge Europe’s fifth freedom, we are not only opening up to a tolerant Europe, we also create a favorable climate for innovation, research and business, which will eventually lift the EU and create prosperity. In the EU’s future long-term budget for the period 2020 to 2027, that is being negotiated at the moment, we liberals are fighting for increased funding for research, innovation and the Erasmus + programme. This will eventually ensure growth and jobs.
Between 1901 and 2015, the United States has received 355 Nobel Prizes, the vast majority of them for achievements in physics and physiology/medicine. In the same period, EU member states were awarded only 331 Nobel Prizes, of which 66 were literature prizes. With fully utilised European research and innovation cooperation, the EU could play a more prominent role in the field of research. It would not only mean winning more Nobel Prizes, it would also significantly strengthen Europe’s welfare. .
It is time for intellectual capital to be identified and seen in the same way as we hitherto highlight the four freedoms: for people, goods, services and capital. Only then can we achieve the goal that today feels distant: the EU becoming the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy. Because it’s only through strong investments and investment in research, innovation, entrepreneurship and development, that we can find sustainable solutions to the societal challenges that we face, ranging from energy technology and resource efficiency to poverty reduction, integration and social exclusion solutions.