The European Union remained deadlocked Friday in discussions over where to set up a new high-tech innovation institute, with Poland and Hungary both pushing for the right to host it.
The EU aims to rival US institutes with its planned research organization
After late-night talks, the EU's ministers for economic development failed to reach an agreement on whether the European Institute of Technology (EIT) should be located in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, or the Polish city of Wroclaw.
As talks began on Thursday evening, four cities -- Budapest, Wroclaw, Barcelona and Jena in Germany -- were hoping to host the prestigious institute. There was also one joint bid from Bratislava and Vienna
But according to a gentlemen's agreement reached by EU leaders in December 2003, the states which joined the bloc in 2004 are to be "given priority" when it comes to allocating new EU agencies.
And indeed, shortly before midnight, diplomats close to the talks reported that Barcelona, Jena and the joint bid had all dropped out, leaving Budapest and Wroclaw to fight it out.
Neither city managed to win over enough of the other's supporters, leading ministers to postpone taking any decision until June 18.
EU aims for "knowledge triangle"
The concept of the EIT was created by EU member states in 2006 as a way of bringing universities, researchers and business -- the so-called "knowledge triangle" -- closer together in order to make the EU's economy more innovative.
The name quickly drew parallels with that of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a US university famed for its innovative creations.
However, unlike its illustrious US counterpart, which has some 10,000 students, EIT is not intended to act as a teaching and research institute, but rather as a go-between, bringing Europe's academic minds and business money together.