Where innovation is a key driver of competitiveness, clusters are
often the catalyst which makes it happen. Many clusters exist andprosper in all EU countries. However, global competition sets new
challenges and requirements for policy makers and businessespushing them from being good to become excellent. Striving for
excellence at all levels is therefore the key for EU clusters to reacha world-class level.
Clusters are traditionally an important element of the EU industriallandscape. More than 2.000 agglomerations have been statisticallyidentiﬁed in EU countries, out of which however less than 10% can
be said to have strong focus and the critical mass to really impact thedevelopment of regional economies and innovation.
Although clustering is a market-driven process, many regional andnational governments are today active in designing cluster support
programmes. The Commission aims at facilitating and leveraging these
eﬀorts by mobilising and streamlining its cluster-relevant instruments
developed under the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, the7
Framework Programme for Research and Development, and the EUCohesion Policy. This Communication “
Towards world-class clusters in the European Union:implementing the broad-based innovation strategy
” outlines, for the ﬁrsttime, an EU-level perspective on how to accelerate the development of more competitive clusters. It calls for more excellence and cooperation
at policy and business level so that Europe’s strengths can be better
leveraged into market success at global level.
The proposed actions range from improving existing instruments such as
the European Cluster Observatory (cluster mapping) and the European
Cluster Alliance (cluster policy dialogue) to new actions aiming to raise the
excellence of cluster organisations, fostering trans-national cooperation
between clusters and improving the framework conditions for cluster
development in the EU market. There is no European cluster policy assuch but a wide range of support actions that, if used in an intelligentand more strategic manner, can have a profound impact in support of regional and national eﬀorts to build stronger clusters in the EU.Günter VerheugenVice-PresidentCommissioner for Enterprise and Industry