In April 2007 Janez Potocnik, EU Science and Research Commissioner, launched a grass roots campaign to reform Europe’s research structures. The overall aim: to push for better planning, more money and greater flexibility in scientific research.
In the 1980s, it was fashionable for European politicians to fret about the “technology gap” between the old and new worlds: the United States dominated trade in computers, software, airplanes and missiles. To redress the balance, Europe mustered billions in government subsidies for its failing tech industries. A generation later, only the aerospace industry has really responded – yet once again, the European Union is planning a new round of tech subsidies, in its €54.5 billion, seven-year “Framework 7” programme. Will it do any good?