The aim of the article is to determine how innovative the economies of the European Union countries are and to identify arguments for the role of innovation in overcoming the economic crisis in the member states. The methodology applied to achieve the defined goal includes a description of the presented problem and an analysis of the detailed phenomena. The performed disquisition resulted in the following conclusions. The issue of innovation acquires special significance for the development of the European Union at the time of the economic crisis. Favorable conditions for activities to increase the role of innovation in the economy at the time of a crisis are changes in the corporate strategies in the field of innovative activity, changes of the innovation character and decisions of the long-term investors. The results of the analysis let the authoress make a conclusion that the development of innovation may constitute an effective method of getting out of the economic crisis for the European Union countries, provided that their public sector creates mechanisms to support innovative activity, especially in small and medium sized companies.