Research and development (i46)

In 2021, research and development expenditures in Belgium amounted to 3.4% of gross domestic product. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must reach 3%. This objective will be reached by continuing the trend since 2000 (data available in November 2023). Research and development expenditures are therefore developing favourably.

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Research and development - Belgium - trend assessment

percentage of gross domestic product

trend and extrapolation (November 2023)
objective 2020 and beyond3.

2020 estimated data, 2021 provisional data

Eurostat (2022), Intramural R&D expenditure (GERD) by sectors of performance [rd_e_gerdtot], (consulted on 31/05/2022) & calculations FPB.

Research and development - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of gross domestic product

//: Average Growth Rates

EU: estimated data, except for 2015 and 2017

Eurostat (2023), Intramural R&D expenditure (GERD) by sectors of performance [rd_e_gerdtot], (consulted on 19/10/2023).

Research and development by region - Belgium

percentage of gross domestic product

Brussels-Capital Region1.
Flemish Region2.
Walloon Region1.
//: Average Growth Rates

Eurostat (2022), Intramural R&D expenditure (GERD) by sectors of performance [rd_e_gerdreg], (consulted on 30/05/2022).

Definition: the indicator measures gross domestic expenditure on research and development (R&D), both public and private, as a percentage of GDP. These expenditures relate to work undertaken on a systematic basis to increase the stock of knowledge, and the use of this stock of knowledge for new applications. Data come from Eurostat.

Goal: the share of R&D expenditure must reach 3% of GDP as from 2020.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 9.5: "Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending".

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development sets this objective: "Research and development budgets will reach at least 3% of GDP and will increase year by year" (Objective 49; Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

Since this commitment sets a target of 3% for 2050, this goal is also considered for 2030.

International comparison: in comparison with the European average, the Belgian indicator as a percentage of GDP has always stood at a higher level. As from 2009, the growth rate of the indicator (both in euros and as a percentage of GDP) for Belgium was higher. Therefore, the gap in 2021 between the Belgian R&D expenditure and the European ones (EU27) is a bit more than 1.1 percentage point. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with the best performance in 2021 and performs better than the European average. In that year, Belgium ranked first with 3.4% and Romania last with 0.5%.

UN indicator: the selected indicator corresponds to indicator 9.5.1 - Research and development expenditure as a proportion of GDP.


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