Long-Term Impacts of the Financial Crisis on European Research and Innovation Policies: Reinforcing Old Tensions?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
J211 (13 rue de l'Université)
Inga Ulnicane , Institute for European Integration Research EIF, University of Vienna
Over recent decades European research policy analysis and practice have attempted to overcome a number of tensions and contradictions such as distinction between basic and applied research or an ‘innovation divide’ in research performance among ‘excellent’ and ‘cohesion’ member states. These divides have been seen as a source of tensions and hampering factors in integration of knowledge production and diffusion activities. A number of policy measures have aimed to better integrate basic and applied research and to support capability building in catching-up member states.

However, the recent financial crisis appears to have reinforced some of the old tensions in European research policy. Under austerity measures, many EU member states, which fund more than 80% of public research in Europe, have cut their investment in research with potential long-term effects on research capabilities, human resources and infrastructures. In particular, the funding cuts have most affected research systems of the weakest member states, thus reinforcing innovation divide. At the EU level, a strong post-crisis discourse has emerged about research and innovation as a way out of crisis and sources of renewed growth. It is accompanied by a focus on return on investment, results orientation and impact on jobs and growth, thus favoring applied research over basic research.

The paper draws on theories about institutional change and uses a range of methods and data sources (primary documents, interviews with EU decision-makers and stakeholders) to analyze long-term effects of the crisis on EU research and innovation policies.