BRUSSELS – Greece may be a laggard in innovation, research and the development of new products and services among European Union members, but at least it is showing some improvement, the latest annual European Commission report confirms. The survey, which focuses on what are the most important components of a country’s competitiveness and development, places Greece in the 18th spot among the bloc’s 27 member states. It got better last year thanks to the most elementary form of service development: broadband Internet. «Greece’s record in innovation is below average,» the report argues, but concedes that its improvement rate is higher than that of Europe in general. This improvement does not derive from companies’ investment in innovation or the research and development of new technologies and products, which in 2008 posted a 25 percent decline. The progress is due to broadband Internet connection (which soared by 51.6 percent last year) as well as the sale of new products in the Greek market, which posted a 32.8 percent growth in 2008. The Commission’s report identifies as the strong points of the country’s economy in research and development the access to funding and other forms of support by the state and markets, firms’ cooperation with one another and with the state, and the financial results in employment and sales.