From rivalry to synergy: R&I policy and Cohesion Policy

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Date : 03/07/2018

The future of research and innovation (R&I) policy in the EU is currently being debated and the recently published 'Lamy Report' is an important milestone in this debate. In its 11 recommendations, the Lamy Report – officially called 'The independent High Level Group on maximizing the impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes' – offered a bold and compelling vision for R&I policy in the post-2020 era. The call that attracted most public attention was the call for a doubling of the seven year R&I budget to at least EUR 120 billion, which the report described as “the best investment the EU can make” (High Level Group, 2017:9). However, there has been little or no public debate about the R&I model that implicitly runs through the Lamy Report. Nor has there been much public debate about other important issues, such as the many drivers of productivity and economic growth in different socio-economic conditions or about the merits of sourcing the extra R&I funding from the post-2020 Cohesion Policy.

The aim of this short conceptual paper is to provide some cautionary arguments about the unintended consequences of a full alignment of policies – the FP on the one hand and the R&I aspects of Cohesion Policy (RIS3)1 on the other – which seem similar but which reflect distinct and complementary logics.

Our sympathetic critique of the Lamy Report revolves around one core proposition: that such an alignment, which at first glance seems reasonable because the policies look the same, is likely to be detrimental in the long term to the basic objective of RIS3 which – is regional economic development. 

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