European Research Area
- A sufficient instrument in supporting transition towards a knowledge-based
economy in Europe?
Marianne Paasi, European Commission
Paper presented in the Workshop "Innovation,
technological change and growth in knowledge base and service
intense economies, Stockholm, February 2001
The objective for establishing a European Research Area (ERA,
see "Towards a European research area", Communication
of the European Commission, 2000) is to support growth and competitiveness
as well as transition towards a knowledge-based economy in Europe.
The creation of a ERA is felt to be necessary because of deficits
in the European research and technical development. In particular,
the ERA should remove the present fragmentation of the European
research (i.e. resulting from uncoordinated research activities
in the 15 Member states and in the 5th Framework programme)
by setting-up a framework for a better organisation of European
research. The ERA will be implemented through several actions
that aim to establish connectivity and tighter co-operation
in European research, to support mobility of researchers between
the Member states, to increase investment in knowledge and to
attract more human capital to Europe (the paper focus is only
on economic aspects of the ERA).
The paper analyses the individual actions planned by the Commission
and Member states for implementing the ERA with respect to their
efficiency in creating a competitive knowledge based economy.
For understanding how does the ERA aim to support emerging knowledge
based economy, the paper investigates the core concepts of knowledge-based
economy behind and their rationale for the individual actions.
The analysis uses the classical and more present theoretical
literature on the issues of knowledge and knowledge-based economy
(for example Arrow 1962, Nelson 1959, Neef,D. ed. 1998a and
1998b, OECD 2000, Edquist,C. 1997, David/Foray 1994).
Thes analysis will show that a fast transition towards a knowledge-based
economy in Europe is not possible without implementing the ERA.
The new European research policy, manifested through the ERA,
aims to abolish certain market and systemic failures in the
European research system. Consequently, the implementation of
the ERA will benefit all Member states. A closer look at the
conditions for successful implementation of the concrete actions
by the Member states show that several institutional and political
constraints are capable of preventing the realisation of the
ERA. A successful implication, therefore, needs complementary
institutional and political changes in the Member states and/or
careful design for the policy instruments.
The conceptual analyses of the ERA - and the new European research
policy - will reveal several strengths but also potential weakness
that may call for further complementary plans. An increased
knowledge about the ERA helps to initiate further theoretical
work on the research and innovation policy in a knowledge-based
economy and on its implementation.