The Innovation Policy of the European Union

The Innovation Policy of the European Union

From Government to Governance

Susana Borrás

Adopting a strong interdisciplinary approach, the author skilfully examines the politics and economics of the new innovation policy of the EU, addressing such diverse topics as research and knowledge production, the changing regime of intellectual property rights, building the information society, standard setting, risk assessment and the social sustainability of innovation. The conclusions pose many theoretical questions which will require further research, most notably the extent to which EU innovation policy underpins a European system of innovation.

Chapter 2: Research and Knowledge Production

Susana Borrás

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, european politics and policy


The process of European integration is not based on a customs union, a common agricultural policy and a single currency only: it is also based on circulation of knowledge among individual member countries. (Archibugi et al. 2000: 1) INTRODUCTION The production of knowledge has always been an important element of the European integrationist project. In the reconstruction period there was an understanding that science had to be harnessed collectively, becoming a building block for peace, stability and prosperity. Until then, science had had a prominent role in the two great wars, deploying new weapons of mass destruction. No wonder then that the Europeanists’ preoccupation was to enforce collective control of advanced knowledge. An entirely new solution was born, European states were not just to exchange their knowledge: they were to produce it collectively. As time went by, scientific cooperation extended to a larger number of areas from what initially was only collaboration in nuclear energy. Consequently, Archibugi’s assertion - that European integration deals with the free exchange of knowledge - nicely links science to the market-building rationale of the Communities. Nevertheless, it falls short of explaining the political ambitions behind it. The EU is more than a space for economic transactions. It is a new post-national political-economic order, and in this order, the collective production of advanced knowledge epitomizes the pooling of national sovereignty. In the last two decades, scholars of innovation and science studies have been reporting significant changes in the patterns of knowledge production. The transition from a...

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