Europe​ of knowledge

Scientists have been pointing out the growing importance of knowledge for the welfare and competitiveness of our societies already before the Second World War. But the various waves of globalisation since the eighties of the last century brought this issues into the heart of the geopolitical discourse: traditional industrial and trade macro-politics have not been sufficient anymore to guarantee smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Europe from the beginning and currently also the United States of America (USA) are losing out vis-à-vis new emerging economies like Brazil, India China, Chile, South Africa, etc. The European Commission for the first time acknowledged this phenomenon in its communication​ ‘Towards a Europe of Knowledge’ (1997) paving the way for the famous conclusions in March 2000 in Lisbon where the European Council decided on the ambition to make the European Union (EU) the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.

Although research, innovation and education have played a limited role at European level way before that date, this so-called knowledge triangle moved right into the centre of the political attention at highest level within the EU. Even stronger, since it became clear that the EU did not achieve its ambitious target at all, knowledge has been even more central in the macro-economic discourse, most notably with the adoption of the Europe 2020 Strategy​ in 2010 directed towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth implemented through seven flagship initiatives amongst which the Innovation Union, Youth on the MoveDigital Agenda for Europe and Agenda for new skills and jobs​ are most relevant for knowledge.