But all this will be of no use if the pace of change remains leisurely and if the progress achieved on paper is not translated into real advances for Europe’s citizens on the ground.How to achieve this is quite another matter. But there is no alternative. We must increase our competitiveness and stimulate innovation in our companies and in society at large. The building of a short and strong link between innovation and job creation requires that we overcome a number of formidable barriers.There must be immediate action on six fronts, namely: changing attitudes; creating new businesses; research and development; knowledge and skills; finance and risk capital; and government and legislation.Attitudes must change in the labour market. Jobs associated with new technology do not follow the pattern of traditional jobs. It is important therefore to win public acceptance of the entrepreneurial model of employment: flexible, mobile, risk-taking and increasingly working at home for multiple employers.School-leavers must be ready for a working and living environment very different from that of their parents. Europe needs a highly knowledgeable workforce with a constantly evolving palette of skills and aptitudes. We need to train people to be able to adapt to future jobs in areas which have not been identified yet.Our European cultures favour achieving greater security, stability and equality over risk-taking, creativity and innovation. Our education system is more focused on avoiding failure than on taking risks. All too often, the education process is entrusted to people who appear to have no dialogue with, nor understanding of, industry and the path of progress. It does not have to be that way.We have the capability to create job opportunities for everyone if only we would unleash the creativity which lies dormant in all walks of life.For a generation, Europe has failed to match a substantial economic growth with job creation, despite its potentially formidable strengths: the largest single market in the world and a deep and wide knowledge base. It is now widely acknowledged that resistance to change, unwillingness to take risks, over-regulation, taxation and administrative disincentives, lack of entrepreneurship, and rigid labour market rules stand firm in the way of job creation.Other, lesser-known obstacles exist, such as unwieldy approval procedures for new products, slow and expensive patent systems, inefficient research funding and, of particular concern, an inability to move quickly from the research idea to market success.But there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. In countries where markets are freeing up, an increasing number of innovative companies are being founded, revealing a new economic vigour. There is an encouraging revival of venture capital and new stock markets are being created to target small companies.In other countries, regrettably, we are still visibly held back by barriers to entry and by limits placed on entrepreneurs and on established new businesses.It must be said that the EU and national governments are already addressing some of these issues. Implementation of the First Action Plan for Innovation in Europe has started, spearheaded by Commissioner Edith Cresson.Advances have been made in protecting intellectual property rights, financing innovation, administrative simplification, education and training, and gearing research to innovation. Far too many job opportunities in Europe’s network of businesses are lost because of obstacles set up by European traditions and over-prescriptive legislative systems.The key to unlocking the potential of all Europeans is innovation. Tomorrow’s jobs rely on our ability to build the right conditions for innovation today, whatever the strength or weakness of the current economic cycle. Only greater competitiveness and innovation can create sustainable new jobs.Innovation is not only about new technology, science and research; it is also about attitudes of mind which should permeate government, businesses, academia, indeed the whole of society. It is therefore neither useful nor helpful to address innovation as a strictly economic issue.Innovation is an antidote to inertia and complacency. By itself, it is not a panacea. It will not on its own provide a definitive solution to excessive unemployment.But innovation challenges stale and hidebound ways of thinking and acting. It invites us to look with fresh eyes, to think in different ways, to seek out new answers to old problems.More to the point, innovation leads to the creation of completely new markets, and there is no way to predict exactly what these will be, let alone how far they will transform our lives. It also enables us to organise our work and social structures in more efficient and thus more humane ways. It taps people’s creative energies. It makes the workplace more competitive and therefore more satisfying.That is why we have to establish a close connection in Europe between innovation, economic growth and job creation. While the task is huge, there is ground for optimism.Our single market of 350 million people will be significantly reinforced by economic and monetary union and the introduction of the single currency. This will quickly widen capital markets and provide greater venture opportunities.In addition, enlargement of the European Union in the not too distant future to new member states will add – in population terms – a new Germany in the first phase and a new France in the second.The new market conditions will inevitably transform our economies. This cannot but encourage companies of all sizes to be more mobile and forward-looking. The capital markets themselves will expand exponentially.The more money that is available, the greater the chances that entrepreneurs will benefit from this expansion. But before this happens, there are many obstacles which Europe must overcome. This goes some way to explaining the persistent mismatch between the skills required by employers and those offered by entrants in the labour market. We must improve Europe’s knowledge and skills by reigniting enthusiasm for innovation and entrepreneurship in the educational environment.The largest corporations already play an important part in generating new jobs by nurturing the creation and growth of small and medium enterprises which are in a better position to exploit new ideas. But this is not enough.Government must play a leading role in helping to change society by brokering the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship to the public. They can themselves become more innovative and entrepreneurial, as the UK government has done. These cultural changes are as important as opening up markets and removing rules and regulations that visibly block progress.There is a great deal that governments in Europe can do to create an environment receptive to innovation.The more active European governments have started bench-marking their policies and services to ensure that quality keeps pace with new demands made by the public and imposed by new technologies. Others, however, declare their good intentions but with little real follow-up.It is essential to complete single market legislation and to enforce national implementation of EU laws. While there is broad agreement on the principle of liberalisation of markets for products, labour and capital, member states argue that this should be done in a way that does not undermine a European social model which aims to ensure job security.The irony of it all is that western Europe, despite its claim to job security for everyone, has long suffered the highest unemployment rate amongst industrial countries.It is obvious, therefore, that we need to act now. This is a critical time for Europe, with the single currency about to become reality and the enlargement of the European Union on the near horizon. Europe must create more jobs. We owe this to all our citizens.Baron Daniel Janssen is chairman of chemical giant Solvay and a member of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) which has just published a report on ‘Job Creation and Competitiveness through Innovation’.