European Law Journal, Vol. 14, No. 5, September 2008, pp. 635–654.

© 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA

The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw: Is the Open Method of Coordination Effective in Relation to the European Research Area?
Sonia Morano-Foadi1

Abstract: In the light of the subsidiarity principle, this article discusses the Community competence in relation to the ‘European Research Area’. As such it responds directly to the question of whether the European commitment to consider research as one of the new emerging priorities of the EU, is reflected in the Member States domestic research policies. To this aim, the article outlines the Community policy to enhance European competitiveness and the goals set in the Lisbon Declaration (March 2000) and reaffirmed in the Barcelona Declaration (March 2002) shaping the European Research Area. It then goes on to investigate whether the Lisbon and Barcelona agenda targets on competitiveness are likely to be met at European level. The functioning and effectiveness of the Open Method of Co-ordination are examined as a tool to maximise synergies between national and community research and technological development activities. The article, using the Italian research policy as a case study, claims there are some inconsistencies between the Italian and the EU policies on research and technological development and transfer of best practice.



In order to achieve the goal of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world by 2010, the EU has to ensure a strong science and research capacity and accelerate research and development (R&D) investments in the public and private sectors. In January 2000, a ‘European Area of Research’ (ERA) was created to provide better overall framework conditions for research in Europe and a community strategy for a common European research system.2 In the research policy area new modes of governance have been introduced. The EU centrally supports research and development and at the same time co-ordinates and



Oxford Brookes University, Senior Lecturer in European Law. The author wishes to thank Dr Luca Cerioni, Dr Debbie Millard and the two anonymous referees for their valuable comments. The usual disclaimer applies. European Commission, Communication, Towards a European Research Area, COM (2000), 18 January 2000.

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finances activities at regional level.3 The Community intervention is based on ‘cognitive and normative inputs’, which are considered the ‘framing mechanisms’ of the process of European integration.4 European institutions face the challenge of choosing appropriate tools (techniques, operational means and devices) to achieve the consensus on strategic goals set in Lisbon.5 Together with the Community methods of integration (direct impact of Community law) or the indirect effects of economic integration, new soft law instruments are guiding policy-making in the research field. Soft law governance uses tools such as benchmarking, action plans and exchange of best practice with the aim of achieving European integration in a non-coercive manner. These soft law tools represent various forms of the so-called Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC), which has been utilised to achieve greater integration in policy fields where otherwise no progress could have been made due to the principle of subsidiarity. The OMC has been applied much more recently in research than in other areas, such as employment and economic policy, for example, taxation. It was introduced at the end of 2003 following the adoption by the Council of the target proposed by the Commission, that 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) be allocated to R&D, the so called 3% benchmark and, the 3% action plan also prepared by the Commission. This soft law instrument, which goes beyond the initial treaty provisions, is in reality designed to strengthen research and innovation in the EU.6 It has been introduced to overcome the inefficiencies of European research policy, which result from ‘the segmentation of public research efforts and overlapping of research programmes, and consequent underutilisation of the available human resources’.7 In an attempt to fulfil the ‘consistency’ element, which requires Member States to conform to EU policy models, the Lisbon European Council identified a number of OMCs with the aim of penetrating into national systems and changing internal policy to adapt to the European framework.8 These soft law instruments direct public action in the Member States, and, consequently, further Europeanisation.9 In the research area the Commission refers to several processes as ‘OMC’ and relates them to five different areas: (1) the ‘3% Action Plan’; (2) human resources and mobility; (3) science and society; (4) networking of national research programmes (ERA-net); and (5) research and technological development (RTD) infrastructure.10 This article focuses mainly on the ‘3%’ benchmark, which operates in support of what has been defined as the ‘European innovation paradox’, ie a inconsistency between the EU’s high level of scientific excellence and the lack of the economic valorisation of research activities. What is required is a measurement system that translates national RTD policies into commensurable indicators.11


5 6 7


9 10


R. Kaiser and H. Prange, ‘Managing Diversity in a System of Multi-level Governance: the Open Method of Co-ordination in Innovation Policy’, (2004) 11 Journal of European Public Policy 249. I. Bruno, S. Jacquot and L. Mandin, ‘Europeanization through its instrumentation: benchmarking, mainstreaming and the open method of co-ordination . . . toolbox or Pandora’s box?’, (2006) 13(4) Journal of European Public Policy 521. Bruno, Jacquot and Mandin, ibid, at 521. Kaiser and Prange, op cit n 3 supra, at 250. D. Gros and J. Mortensen, ‘R&D in the EU. Can the Open Method of Coordination Succeed in Closing the Gap?’ (2004) 56 CEPS Policy Brief 1. E. Szyszczak, ‘Social Policy in the Post-Nice Era’, in A. Arnull and D. Wincott (eds), Accountability and Legitimacy in the European Union (Oxford University Press, 2003). Bruno, Jacquot and Mandin, op cit n 4 supra, at 520–521. CREST Draft Summary Conclusions of the 288th Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Research Committee (CREST), Iraklion, Greece, 27 and 28 October 2003, CREST 1203/03 7. Bruno, Jacquot and Mandin, op cit n 4 supra, at 526.
© 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Gomitzka ‘Coordinating policies for a “Europe of knowledge”: emerging practice of the Open Method of Co-ordination in education and research’.it. industrialists. 637 .uio. the scientific world. For a general overview on the ERA. The fourth section assesses whether the introduction of the OMC has made any significant progress in relation to the Italian research strategy. These multi-annual framework programmes are the driving force of a new collaborative approach and contributed to the creation first and then to the development of the ERA. (2005) 16 Centre for European Studies Working Paper 15. its objectives and deadlines set in the Lisbon and Barcelona Declarations. op cit n 7 supra. Europe an area for research. Most of the indicators on the level of R&D show that the EU as a whole lags behind the USA and Japan. a number of inconsistencies are evident in some of the Member States research policies.14 The article is divided into four sections. which emerged from broad consultation of the political authorities. available at http://www. They are based on priorities.crui. the EU’s involvement has not followed a clear line of evolution from cooperation. Scandinavian countries at the top of the list are comparable to the USA and Japan. European Commission. Audizione della CRUI presso le Commissioni Riunite Bilancio di camera e Senato sul Disegno di legge Finanziaria C1746.1% of the GDP to research and development. The second section explores the application of OMC to the research area and its idea of transferring good practice. A. Looking at country-by-country data there are discrepancies between the North and the South of Europe. October 2006. CRUI. in contrast with Southern European countries and new Member States. The third section reviews the EU strategy to achieve the Lisbon target. and user representatives. II The ERA: Origins and Context A single research market and the free movement of researchers are central to the development of the EU. which have a low level of R&D. falling considerably short of the European goal of 3%. For example. The research policy of the EU has gradually evolved to become a highly dense area of activities. the Italian research policy document and other economic planning documents express the country’s support for the European scientific policy and yet Italy allocates only 1.arena.15 Since 1984. Although research is a productive area of Community intervention. research is now a major item on the EU budget. 2000). European research policy and those of the Member States substantially run in parallel without efficient co-ordination. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. each lasting 5 years. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The first section examines the European Research policy. the Commission adopted a Communication on the creation of an ERA. In practice. (2006) European Law Journal 559–574. see A. Member States should try to implement ERA policy investing in the research sector and linking research and industry. the EU has defined the scale and guidelines of its research drive within framework programmes. In January 2000.16 With the expansion of these programmes.13 The aim of this article is to question the effectiveness of soft law governance in relation to the ERA through reference to Italian research policy.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw Even at national level.12 Moreover. at 2. De Elera. ‘The European Research Area: On the Way Towards a European Scientific Community?’.no. Series: Europe on the move (Luxembourg. available at http://www. which aimed to integrate research programmes across borders and across disciplines rather than just basing them on loose cooperation 12 13 14 15 16 Gros and Mortensen. to coordination towards full integration.

which account for most of the research carried out and financed in Europe. 638 . It included actions aiming at supporting the development of human resources. Communication. Although the Lisbon Declaration (March 2000) set the goal for the EU to become ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world’ by 2010. All European summits from Lisbon 2000 onwards have underlined the contribution of research and education in setting up the European knowledge society. was considered more an agenda trying to link the social and economic aspects of European integration. No 100/1/02. better jobs and greater social cohesion.18 The ERA project was reinforced by the European Council in Lisbon in March 2000. (2004) 11(2) Journal of European Public Policy 186. (2005) 9(1) European Integration online Papers (EIoP).European Law Journal Volume 14 between researchers and research organisations.2 million researchrelated personnel). S.9% to 3%) and. the single market. but also takes account of all relevant aspects of other EU and national policies. second. available at http://eiop. Presidency Conclusions. Special attention was paid to research programmes in an attempt to make the implementation of EU policies more effective in areas such as agriculture.000 researchers or 1. for an increase in the number of researchers (a further 700. Borrás and K.or. at 15ff. as it has been defined. Trondal ‘Two Worlds of Europeanisation: Unpacking Models of Government Innovation and Transgovernmental Imitation’. This VI FP provided a financial budget of €16. In 2004. 17% more than the V Framework Programme22 and also proposed an increase of 3% of the GDP to be allocated to research. These objectives were set to create a dynamic ERA that puts Europe at the forefront of international scientific excellence and contributes to sustainable economic growth. the European Council and the Commission decided to prepare a mid-term review of the Lisbon process. The ERA in fact represents an effort to move the EU’s research policy from mere redistributive towards more regulative measures. The European research policy not only addresses the funding of research activities. and innovation. As such the Lisbon strategy. On 21 February 2001 in Brussels the Commission adopted the Sixth Framework Programme on research. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.htm. op cit n 15 supra. 14–15 March. which has established a series of objectives and deadline. fisheries. Barcelona European Summit. ie ‘horizontal integration’19 than a ‘full-fledged theory of competitiveness and social cohesion’. See for example European Council. Former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok was mandated by the March 2004 European Council to lead a group of experts with the objective of reviewing the Lisbon strategy.20 It could be argued that this vagueness was necessary for reaching consensus on some overarching common goals for the Member States. the Barcelona Declaration first called for a rise in the share of European GDP invested in research (from 1.270 billion. health and consumer protection. training. Jacobsson ‘The Open Method of Co-ordination and new governance patterns in the EU’. In line with this. This report suggested that research is a major cornerstone of the Lisbon 17 18 19 20 21 22 European Commission. transport and the information society. developing competences and transferring know how. giving incentives to transnational mobility. more information available at http://www. the VI Framework Programme (VI FP) (2003–2006) aimed at building EU-wide platforms of excellence.21 In March 2002. the way to achieve such a goal was left very vague. to be presented to the Spring Summit in March 2005. to achieve this target.cordis.17 Within the ERA there should be coordination of national research policies. the environment. op cit n 2 supra.

It has defined four priority areas where more action is needed. at 9. which involved the adoption by the Council of Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (Integrating the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines—divided between Macro and Micro Economic Guidelines—and the Employment Guidelines).23 The report urged a renewed focus on jobs and growth. financing actions and policy development). The report’s central recommendation is a ‘Pact for Research and Innovation to drive the agenda for an innovative Europe’. higher employment rates and a common EU energy policy. the VII FP total budget is €50. The programme consisted of 50 initiatives (regulatory actions. To achieve the 3% target. Aho. As a consequence Member States presented National Reform Programmes (NRPs) including reforms detailing micro-economic. The revised Lisbon Strategy focused on Growth and Jobs.521 billion allocated differently in the years starting with a smaller budget and then increasing it gradually every year. macro-economic and employment policies for the period 2005– 2008. In its 2006 Annual Progress Report the Commission has assessed the NRPs. The VII Framework Programme (VII FP) (2007–2013) is designed as a key contribution to the re-launched Lisbon strategy. 23. These Integrated Guidelines became the basis for Member States to produce National Reform Programmes. pointing out their strengths and weaknesses and presented it to the Spring European Council meeting. ibid. that little progress had been made in innovating Europe’s economy and expressed growing concern that the reform process was not moving fast enough and that the ambitious targets could not be reached. The renewed Lisbon Strategy adopted in 2005 introduced a streamlined progress reporting process. Aho. Creating an Innovative Europe. Report from the High level Group chaired by Aho Esko 2006. COM (2006) 30. They presented progress reports in the autumn of 2006 and will also submit them in the autumn of 2007 and 2008. Pt 2. Country chapters. which is still higher than the VI FP budget. Kok. which assessed the situation and made proposals to boost Europe’s research and innovation performance.25 A group of four high-level experts mandated by the Commission drafted the Aho report. Although the Commission proposed a higher budget of €70 billion. 639 . E. Based on the Commission and the Council’s suggestions for improvements.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw strategy. These plans aim at strengthening the EU Commission and Member States’ partnership to transfer effective and innovative practices from one country to another. Time to Move up a Gear. Member States have presented to the Commission their first reports on the implementation of their NRPs.24 The March 2005 European Council reviewing the Lisbon strategy stated that alongside undeniable progress. These are the four priority areas: education and research. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Report from the High level Group chaired by Wim Kok. It decided on a new method of Governance for the Lisbon Strategy. which were finalised by the Member States in October 2005. there were shortcomings and delays in implementing the Lisbon Strategy. 2004. the Commission (in July 2005) presented a ‘Community Lisbon programme’ to complement the national action plans for growth and jobs. The 2007 Commission Annual Progress Report contains a 23 24 25 26 27 W. SMEs. Facing the challenge—The Lisbon strategy for growth and employment. Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council.27 The report presents a strategy and a course of action to create an innovative Europe.26 The experts outlined the fact that current efforts towards the revised Lisbon Agenda are not enough and they urge European leaders to take radical action on research and innovation ‘before it is too late’.

at 94–102. at 94–102. European Council. laboratories and centres across European countries to the establishment of an internal market in research. COM (2006) 816 final.32 III The OMC and its Functioning in the ERA EU competence in the research sector has evolved from purely funding research to boost ‘loose’ existing cooperation between research groups. Resolution of the Committee of Region on revitalising the Lisbon strategy (2005/C 164/13) [2005] OJ C164/91. as the Lisbon strategy requires Member States to introduce reform programmes and implement them. The two problems identified were.European Law Journal Volume 14 detailed assessment of the progress made and takes into account the work carried out by the Council on selected themes. that Member States have not shown real commitment to the objectives and actions agreed upon. Lisbon European Summit. at 9.31 Although the present EU agenda focuses on the European area of knowledge as well as the improvement of the Lisbon process governance. Implementing the Renewed Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs—‘A year of delivery’. second.33 The Lisbon Conclusions has encouraged ‘the development of an open method of coordination for benchmarking national research and development policies’. the brain drain phenomenon from Europe to the USA. European Council. The EESC views the OMC as a mechanism that has not delivered the expected results since national action-plans on employment. first.29 The view of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of Regions30 is that commitment to the Strategy is lacking. op cit n 18 supra. Moreover. that the EU Commission’s role is not clearly defined in the Lisbon Strategy and consequently the implementation of the European strategy is realised mainly at national level. a common research policy and coordination of national research policies (the ERA project). This turn was confirmed by the Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties counterbalanced by the principle of subsidiarity. Brussels European Council. No 100/1/00. Fragmentation between policy areas continues. the EU total R&D expenditure falls short of the 3% target and business-funded research is decreasing. 8–9 March. Opinion of the EESC. involving an exchange of information and best practice. Presidency Conclusions. A ‘supranational turn’ in research policy has emerged in place of EU initiatives mainly supportive to nation-state research policies. No 7224/1/07. Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on ‘The road to the European knowledgebased society—the contribution of organised civil society to the Lisbon Strategy’ (2006/C 65/18) [2006] OJ C 65/94. and.28 Progress in implementing the aims of the renewed Lisbon Strategy has been made but still the March 2007 European Council called on Member States and EU institutions to pursue actions to ‘strengthen the internal market and competitiveness. social inclusion and in other areas have been transformed into bureaucratic activity reports. 640 . Pt 2. Trondal. fixing 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council.34 Its aim is to ensure satisfactory progress in policy areas which are primarily within Member States’ competence. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. the emerging economies like China and high graduate unemployment rate demand more stringent policy responses. 23–24 March. op cit n 30 supra. Commitment is essential. ibid. Opinion of the EESC. Presidency Conclusions. create better framework conditions for innovation and greater investment in research and development’.

‘The Open Method of Coordination and National Parliaments: Further Marginalization or New Opportunities?’. (2000) Score Stockholm University: Score Rapportserie 7–10. although the reorganisation of competence in the unratified Constitutional Treaty was a main issue. the setting out of specific procedures for the co-ordination of national policies in different areas. at 9. De Burca. ‘The Open Method of Co-ordination in Question’. in particular to promote transfer of knowledge to society and industry. national parliaments learn about solutions in other Member States and are thus able to produce better laws in their own countries (policy transfer). G. op cit n 15 supra. However. It seems that most of the cross-national empirical literature validates the argument that the OMC is meant to benefit national executives more than national parliaments. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. evaluation and peer review organised as mutual learning processes. periodic monitoring. Encourage the reform of public research centres and universities. Gomitzka.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw European guidelines and translating them into national and regional policies. Literature on the OMC is divided between scholars who are in favour of this soft-law tool and those who are against it. at 10. Those who are in favour of OMC argue that it combines subsidiarity and European action in a new way. at 21. ‘The Constitutional Challenge of New Governance in the European Union’. Chicago.36 It is placed in between supranationalism and intergovernamentalism with more joint responsibility than in an intergovernmental mode without conferring legal competences to a supranational level.41 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 CREST Expert Group. Pochet (eds). The Open Method of Co-ordination in Action: the European Employment and Social Inclusion Strategies (Press Interuniversitaires Europeenes Peter Lang. op cit n 15 supra. ‘Explaining the Constitutionalization of EU Governance—the Case of European Employment Cooperation’.39 The Lisbon Council has identified a number of OMCs ranging from drawing up common guidelines to action plans. as the first are considered being the main stakeholders of the renewed Lisbon strategy. Ekengren and K. Tapio. March–April 2006. Surprisingly. Brussels (22 and 23 March 2005). 24. R. J. in J. See the Council Conclusions. 641 .40 However. Jacobsson. Raunio. Zeitlin and P.37 There was mention of the OMC-procedure in various sectoral articles but no reference to a separate article encompassing the method as a mode of governance. Zeitlin. Gomitzka. at 821ff. De Burca. 4ff. (2003) 28(6) European Law Journal 814–839. paper prepared for the 15th International Conference of the Council for European Studies. 2005). op cit n 37 supra. ‘Does OMC really benefit national parliaments?’. 7619/1/05 REV1. 2ff. The way in which such method spreads best practice is through the influence one domestic system has upon another. (2006) 12(1) European Law Journal 130–131. As suggested by De Burca. Gomitzka. some scholars support the thesis that through such a method.38 As such the inclusion of sectoral articles might reflect the position of those who see the OMC as a step towards areas of Member States’ exclusive competence. G. op cit n 15 supra. no mention was given to the OMC either as a tool to complement the existing Community Method or to introduce a new form of governance based on policy coordination. was a concession made ‘to those convention members and participants who continued to insist on a broader inclusion of OMC within the Constitutional Treaty.35 The OMC plays an important role. M. F. Duinaand T. establishing indicators and benchmarks. This soft law tool is used not only to enhance the performance of national research capabilities but also to develop their European dimension spreading best practice and achieving greater convergence towards the main EU goals. the sceptics see the use of the OMC as the preliminary stage on the way to legislation in areas that are particular resistant to Europeanisation. March 2006 Final Report presented to CREST 6.

Bruno. SEC (2001) 1002. Jacquot and Mandin. methodology and indicators. op cit n 10 supra. for example the competitive ERA assumption into the ‘3%’ target. 2002). A High Level Group composed of representatives from each Member State nominated by the respective research ministers was formed. The New knowledge Economy in Europe: A strategy for International Competitiveness and Social Cohesion (Edward Elgar.49 ‘Benchmarking Workshops’ were organised building on the expert groups’ conclusions and with presentations of some ‘good practice’ experiences. European Commission. Its task was to propose relevant indicators and elaborate the methodology of the four themes selected by the Research Council—human resources in RTD. 642 . Working document from the Commission services. 9 © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. A. at 8. J. SEC (2000) 1842. In this way the ‘3%’ target might be relevant as a mean of achieving convergence on the same political goal and not as a performance itself. in M. The requirement of competitiveness implies an intergovernmental cooperation at European level and through ‘the language of quantification’45 benchmarking aims at reconciling national conflicting interests. Then.European Law Journal Volume 14 The Council resolution of June 2000 called upon the Commission to set up a methodology and indicators for the benchmarking of national research policies in order to pave the way for implementing an OMC in the field of R&D42 Beyond being a method of evaluation43 and/or a ‘policy learning tool’. Progress Report on for benchmarking of national research policies 2001 Commission Staff Working Paper. at 519–536. CREST 2003. Lundvall and M. used available and new indicators of benchmarking. the CREST drafted and submitted to the Council its 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 Bruno.44 the benchmarking of national research policies aims to convert political issues into target figures. This might enable governments to convene about ‘commensurable’ expectations. Brussels 2 June 2001. Its task is to write a report on the progress towards the 3% target and provide guidelines for development of national policy measures and recommendations for Community action. paper presented at the Conference of the Centre for European Evaluation Expertise. B.48 The Commission set up four expert groups for each of the themes identified by the Council to assist in the benchmarking process. 203–231. the processes by which they were achieved and analyse possibilities for transferring good practices in different national contexts and draw conclusions on implication for future policy’.47 The main embodiments of the OMC in research policy are represented by two cycles of benchmarking national research policies. ‘International benchmarking as a policy learning tool’. public and private investments in R&D. at 519–536. RTD impact on competitiveness and employment. European Commission. Rodrigues (ed). scientific and technological productivity. Monnier and E. 1995). Lausanne October 2000. Porter. 3 November 2000. The main task of the expert groups was to ‘describe good practices for their theme areas. p. Jacquot and Mandin.46 The functioning of the OMC was placed not in the hands of the Commission but in a permanent committee (CREST) comprising Member States representatives (top civil servants from national research ministries) and representation from the Directorate General (DG) Research. op cit n 4 supra. Tomlinson. Pitarelli. Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton University Press. E. which started in September 2000 and ended in January 2003. Development of an open method of Coordination for benchmarking national research policies—Objectives. T. ‘Benchmarking: the missing link between evaluation and management?. For each theme five indicators were chosen. The first cycle of the OMC research exercise. op cit n 4 supra.

in particular in relation to the benchmarking exercise. The second cycle of benchmarking was launched in March 2006. The question should look at the way the EU is working towards the set goals and the extent to which the OMC is achieving the objectives. at 40. The variety of examples was considered as a positive element capable of informing policy action at EU and country level. subject to methodological improvements. op cit n 3 supra. op cit n 3 supra. For an overview of the recommended instruments and tools see CREST Expert Group 2006. Technology Districts and Funding reforms at National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. The second policy area relates to the universities as promoters of knowledge transfer to enable more efficient contribution to the innovation process. at least in the research area. Country Reports and Expert Group Reports. CREST Expert Group 2006. the OMC has replaced Community integration through law with an Europeanisation process by figures57 and this is not necessarily a good 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 CREST 2003. especially in the early stages. The first area focuses on the overall restructuring of public research centres. Kaiser and Prange have argued that a serious obstacle to the application of the OMC. monitoring and evaluation of concrete policy actions.55 They consider the OMC the most valuable mode of governance in this area when national and regional specificies are taken into consideration. op cit n 35 supra.50 The next stage of the OMC research exercise revolved around the Barcelona target (‘3% target’) which was the first structural indicator of the Lisbon strategy. The third area aims at the design of funding schemes. at 257. Its systematic use. Based on produced Country Peer Reviews. Four policy areas were identified. For more details see section V. CREST Expert Group 2006.54 IV Quantitative and not Qualitative Tools: Is this how the EU is Planning to Develop a Coherent and Comprehensive Strategy in Research? In order to assess whether the Lisbon targets will be met. was also recommended in future cycles.53 The CREST also recommended an evolution of OMC towards coordinated implementation. at 4. op cit n 4 supra. as the knowledge transfer activity is not a very self-sustaining activity. at 251.51 The Country Peer Review was seen as ‘an effective tool that directly responds to the needs of OMC’ as it identified good examples of knowledge transfer. Kaiser and Prange. ibid. the CREST final report contained 20 recommendations addressed to local and national governments for policy action.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw final report of the first cycle including suggestions or comments and some examples of good practices. is the diversity of research and innovation systems across EU Member States. at 6–7.56 I would challenge this concept on the basis of the fact that. Kaiser and Prange. Bruno. op cit n 10 supra. the policy discussion should be based on the competitiveness criteria and on the tasks needed to reach this goal. op cit n 35 supra. 643 . © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The last area creates incentive schemes for researchers to conduct knowledge transfer activities. below. The benchmarking processes used a similar expert group structure as was the case in the first cycle. Jacquot and Mandin.52 An example of best practices in relation to Italy were initiatives such as the Fund for Applied Research (FAR). CNR).

op cit n 4 supra. For details on how OMC and framework directive apply to other areas. (2002) Brussels: European Commission. whose cornerstone is a European knowledge area. This tool aims at monitoring national policy ‘performances’ and translates them into action-oriented data corresponding to the Lisbon strategy. Yet the publications have had little best practice information or qualitative peer review assessments of national performance. European Commission. at 8. De la Rosa. CREST 2003. Scharpf.65 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 Trondal. at 12. Communication from the Commission. It was imported from business into the public sphere to increase a competitive spirit in the public sector. The argument put forward in its favour is based on the fact that quantitative indicators and policy transfer are flexible and effective modes of intergovernmental cooperation.59 This is particularly evident in situations were there is little or no participation of the actors involved at national and regional level. benchmarking appeared the most relevant tool to develop comparable science and technology (S&T) indicators. Gomitzka.European Law Journal Volume 14 move towards integration.62 RTD policies at the European level need to be congruent with ‘an internal knowledge market’63 and Member States are involved in the management of ‘European co-opetition’ through ‘performance benchmarking’. COM (2002) 565 final. within national governments but also among states. The European Research Area: providing new momentum. The Lisbon strategy endeavours to conform the European administrative rationale to a ‘quality’ management style. Strengthening. op cit n 10 supra. The European Research Area—An internal knowledge market. To overcome country diversities within the ERA project these measures were based on comparable categories and coding procedures. the mechanisms of the OMC would hamper integration for the slow nature of knowledge transfer and apprenticeship. Information and Communication Unit. European Commission. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.58 The goal of a ‘learning society’ model. I would argue that a combined approach using OMC tools and framework directives could be a good compromise to regulate such a complex area taking into account national and regional diversities across Member States. ‘The Open Method of Coordination in the New Member States—the Perspectives for its Use as a Tool of Soft Law’. see F. S. Benchmarking prescribes the necessity of competitiveness by embedding the managerial rationality into co-operation among Member States. op cit n 15 supra. reorienting. opening up new perspectives. op cit n 18 supra. In an enlarged EU where research and innovation systems are so diverse. (2005) 11(5) European Law Journal 618–640. Research has shown that exchange of good practice is not enough to make progress towards the integration process. which strengthened the framework of Member States’ voluntary coordination. Jacquot and Mandin. Bruno. The aim of the ERA is to promote a shift towards more regulative measures in relation to a EU’s research policy. urges a coherent restructuring of the intergovernmental research system. To support a policy-making approach appropriate to a competitive ERA. ‘The European social model: coping with the challenge of diversity’.64 Member States are the driving forces of the 3% OMC and the Commission’s role is limited to offering ‘assistance as a facilitator’. The introduction of the OMC has overcome the restraints brought by the shortage of learning transfer mechanisms. Directorate General for Research.60 The foundation for a legal and voluntary European framework dated back to 1994 but it was the ERA project. (2002) 40(4) Journal of Common Market Studies 645–670. at 9.61 Up to 2004 the statistical publications prepared by DG research on the core indicators presented the national performance on a range of data related to the R&D investment target. 644 .

COM (2007) 161. Competitiveness becomes operative if it is translated into performance indicators. As such the Lisbon strategy is not very effective as in most of the cases the Commission’s task is restricted to efforts that ‘encourage those that are willing to improve the conditions to do more and better research in Europe’. Benchmarking national RTD policies in Europe is not a mere exercise for bureaucrats and experts. Nevertheless. This requires Member States’ commitments. ie consultation does exist formally but is restricted to the national level with very little involvement of organised civil society.] or as a follow-up to Commission Communications’. ie Member States and EU institutions. op cit n 30 supra. the renewed Lisbon Strategy is achieving some convergence in national research policy ‘driven in part by discussion and interaction between Member States and the Community level. its policy inputs are dead letters if not converted into actions. The actors involved. Commission Staff Working Document. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The States have to learn from good practices and try to adopt them into their internal systems. (2007) Commission Staff Working Document. Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee. In reality. the Lisbon strategy has left policy choices in the research area at national level but has promoted common indicators and also comparative evaluations of national policy performance. 1–26. need to show a certain level of commitment. at 94–102. COM (2003) 226 final. 645 . The Green Paper ‘The European Research Area: New Perspectives’. The consequences of such a mechanism potentially produces the effect of EU reforms which miss the target and generates negative social and economic consequences for those concerned. The Commission’s role is not simply to address uniform RTD policies. This seems also the case in those countries with a strong tradition of social and civil dialogue. . but rather to disseminate commensurable benchmarks among Member States. In this respect critics referred to the Lisbon strategy as ‘a good exercise for bureaucrats and experts’ but ‘too abstract to be grasped by the public opinion’. such as through the Open Method of Coordination [. Such a role needs to be strengthened in order to achieve ‘consistency’ of domestic research policies or at least ‘coherent policy processes’ within the ERA’s common framework. the pace of progress has been slow and its level has not shown comparable significant advancements in the Lisbon strategy within the enlarged EU. it prepares a set of S&T indicators as a basis for benchmarking the performance of the whole ERA. transfer of best practices should not be seen as a bureaucratic mechanism but as part of a learning process.66 This institution does not have sufficient and effective powers to give policy directions and monitor progress. pragmatic principles and policy transfer.67 Through the introduction of the OMC. The OMC strategy in research and education should also be based on the participation of local and regional actors. The question concerns the effectiveness of such a tool as the best option to deal with the extent of diversity of national research and innovation systems considering the lack 66 67 68 European Commission. 9ff. Although in collaboration with experts who are representative of the Member States. It is a loose mechanism and it is entirely based on the good will of the Member States. European Commission. it is a ‘top-down process’. an action plan for Europe. . the mechanism of the OMC including the qualitative element of practices transfer is not sufficient to achieve the convergence objective. Investing in research. Apparently.68 However.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw To be effective such cooperation should be based on clearly defined targets complemented by appropriate legislative and non-legislative measures. on the contrary it needs to be accompanied by a real involvement of the Member States.

at 18. has provided a powerful catalyst for fiscal prudence during the 1990s. Portugal. The ERA project concerns both the Community and the Member States (including their regions). Germany and France. they acknowledge that a sanction. Discussions on the legitimacy of the Lisbon strategy advocate the involvement of the European Parliament within the OMC processes.71 However. ‘Soft law and sanctions: economic policy co-ordination and reform of the Stability and Growth Pact’. (2004) 11(5) Journal of European Public Policy 810. Harlow and R. ultimately. which is lacking in this sphere. the European Parliament is involved very little.connex_network. In order to accommodate existing diversity in the research and innovation systems of the Member States. at 8. op cit n 66 supra. or have advanced far in their practical reflections on how national policy can contribute to constructing ERA. policy aspects with strong externalities should be debated at the European level. Maher. What is actually needed in the research area. they can act as an obstacle to it by creating incentives to deny responsibility. ibid.72 My argument is that Member States’ failure to conform to guidelines imposed within EMU’s fiscal policy does not provide evidence of the non-efficacy of the sanction system itself. European Commission. Hodson and I. C. As suggested. Notre Europe. 4. (2006) European Governance Papers No C-06-02. contrasted with its role in binding legislative procedures and this is a further weakness of this soft law measure. op cit n 66 supra.70 Hodson and Maher question the efficacy of the sanction mechanisms in relation to the Stability and Growth Pact particularly after the recent breach of EMU’s fiscal rules by Italy.European Law Journal Volume 14 of commitments to the ERA goals at this eurogov/. Hodson and Maher. Sanction mechanisms against non-compliant Member States are not an option of the OMC processes. Promoting Accountability in Multilevel Governance: A network approach. Scholars have argued that sanctions can work against commitment.76 If the mode of closer co-operation should remain unavailable. op cit n 37 supra. on the contrary instead of increasing accountability. market pressure’. a good solution would be a 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 European Commission.74 Given the decentralised character of the OMC. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. although the democratic debate on the OMC should take place at national level. ‘there is no appropriate sanction other than state pressure and. democratic legitimacy and accountability are ensured through the involvement of the European Parliament.73 According to the traditional notion of democracy within the EU. such as for example the exclusion from the euro area. Rawlings.75 The aspiration of a competitive EU cannot be realised only through purely national solutions. at 798. is a ‘powerful catalyst’ to ensure commitment to the Lisbon goals at national level. available at http://www. at 9ff. (2005) 12 Policy Paper.69 A clear weakness of the OMC lies in the absence of an alarm system enabling warnings to be issued by the Commission with the ECJ intervention. by building policy coherence across borders and across policy levels’. De Burca. at 17. 17. it seems important to investigate other potential courses. Notre Europe The Lisbon Strategy and the OMC. The view of the Commission is that ‘in general. As the response is needed at both levels purely national solutions are not enough. D. They suggest that. 646 . op cit n 73 supra. Harlow and Rawlings debate that sanctions are not an essential element of accountability. there is little evidence that national policy makers have taken ownership of the ERA concept.

S. career progression. It appears almost impossible to assess whether policy coordination or transfer can be attributed to OMC processes or to other externalities. As such. poor infrastructures and career perspectives in the private and public research market. Morano-Foadi. The effectiveness of these soft law instruments is often contested on the basis of the limited capacities of this mode of governance to handle specific tasks but there are no or little evidence or empirical findings in this respect. the means of implementation of the OMC involves tools such as indicators and benchmarks as well as the exchange of experiences. ‘Key issues and causes of the Italian Brain Drain’. 647 .79 However. (2005) 43(5) International Migration 133–162. V The Impact of OMC on National Policy and its Effectiveness: The Italian Case There has been very little empirical work on the impact of the OMC and its effectiveness. at 638–639. ‘How Large Is © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. peer reviews and the dissemination of good practice. This model would combine the effectiveness of the Community method with the flexibility of the OMC. some of problems experienced might also arise in other Southern European countries such as Spain. at 664–665.77 The framework directive is a flexible instrument shaped by each Member State to suit specific national and local conditions and preferences.80 77 78 79 80 Scharpf. Member States would transpose this measure taking account of their research systems. E. O. ‘Experimental Governance: The Open Method of Coordination’ (2006) 12(4) European Law Journal 496–497. Consequently. A. In an attempt to offer some insight into the way European countries respond to the goals set in Lisbon. This legal instrument would have binding effect and would be directed by Council who would issue guidelines for the Member States. Peri. This hybrid approach associating hard and soft law would provide a degree of accountability and democratic legitimacy. op cit n 59 supra. These countries are also characterised by low investment in research. De La Rosa.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw combined approach using OMC and framework directives. S. Although the paper is based on Italy. S. the Commission would be able to initiate the usual infringement proceedings. as will now be discussed. In case of non-compliance with their obligation to issue reports or with the reports themselves.78 As mentioned above. Szyszczak. Scholars have suggested that in addition to the difficulties in pursuing and assessing policy transfer there is the huge challenge of analysing outcomes. Framework directives together with the OMC would accommodate existing diversities and better suit the need for integration and competitiveness. they would present action plans and reports which are periodically assessed by peer review. Becker. and excellence in the European Research Area’. Morano-Foadi. ‘Scientific mobility. this section focuses on the extent to which the Italian research policy reflects these targets. (2006) 19(2) Innovation: the European Journal of Social Sciences 209–223. the analysis focuses on the Italian research and innovation system in order to evaluate its convergence with the Lisbon strategy and assesses its working methods. Ichino and G. the Italian situation is special in the sense that the country is experiencing a competitiveness crisis and the lack of R&D investment is a chronic problem which needs an immediate and drastic solution. op cit n 60 supra. Portugal and Greece. Formal sanctions against non-compliant Member States would then ensure compliance.

By contrast. P. Economic and Financial Planning Documents 2007–2011.asp?idDoc=4706. IMD World Competitiveness Report (2007). The Italian public research sector is constituted by universities. Sgarra. affirming that is the private sector’s low propensity to invest. available at www.intertic. The Government has denied its responsibility. on paper. Over the past 5 to 7 years. Employment levels are low in Italy compared to the rest of Europe. state and local laboratories. Italian Government.pdf. affirming that public sector R&D investment are in line with the average of the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). public research institutions. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. (2005) Centro Studi Confindustria. Only recently has greater freedom been granted to universities in the use of funds coming from the Ministry and the possibility of attracting external funding. According to a recent Report on world competitiveness the country has lost ground compared to the top league. the private research market is based on ‘made in Italy’ SMEs. 18 October 2006.82 Italy presents a specialised production sector based on ‘made in Italy’. the main cause for an overall poor R&D investment performance. A The Italian Economy and its Problems The Italian economy is suffering from a serious growth problem and consequent microeconomic instability and sense of social malaise. and whether the OMC is a valuable tool in this field. the extent to which the reforms introduced are related to the ERA and the Lisbon strategy. Productivity growth and increased employment rate need to be linked together. Parascandolo and G. The government annually earmarks the ordinary funding to public research ‘Crescita e produttività: gli effetti economici della regolazione’. Ministero dell’Economia e della Finanza. Despite the progress made since 1997. which contribute to the stagnant.mef. the Italian government has tried to boost research and innovation. often familyrun small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in sectors ranging from textiles to mechanical engineering. at 26. Update on Although the Italian Government has acknowledged. op cit n 82 supra.imd. 648 . the gap still remains wider than it was in 1992.81 The main problems of the Italian economy are a high public deficit and unemployment rate. It has then justified the low private investment as a reflection of the structure of Italian businesses in terms of dimension and sector. the proposed reforms to tackle these problems. National Reform Programme 2006–2008.European Law Journal Volume 14 This section is divided into subsections outlining: the main problems faced by the country. through funding under a Programma Nazionale per la Ricerca (PNR) 81 82 83 84 The “Brain Drain” From Italy?’ (2004) 63(1) Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia 1–32. Ministero dell’Economia e della Finanza. the value of R&D to increase productivity and improve competitiveness. its R&D investment is significantly lower compared to the rest of the industrial countries. available at http://www. In fact the strong productivity growth that occurred until the beginning of 1990s was accompanied by low employment rates.84 This raises a question on the meaning of indicators applied to significantly different situations as many businesses operate in low technology sectors in available at which operate in lower technology sectors and invest very little in research. Most of the research funding is represented by public money. available at http://www. negative performance of total factor productivity.

la crescita e l’occupazione’ literally ‘Italian Programme for innovation. full and timely manner. A sixth priority. at 1–6. while macroeconomic and employment policies were largely covered in the annexes. 19 Aprile 2002. upgrading infrastructure.miur. which are underdeveloped in relation to the needs and potentialities of an industrialised country such as Italy. as follows: extending the area of free choice for citizens and companies (by opening up energy and services markets).it.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw (National Research Programme) (2003–2006). was addressed in a separate document. to boost competition and to increase labour supply and raise employment rates by tackling regional disparities. Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council.86 B Country Reforms to Enhance Competitiveness Italy’s NRP which was named PICO—‘Piano Italiano per l’innovazione. ibid. The 2007 Commission Annual Report suggests that the proposed reforms in relation to competition in product and services and employment and lifelong learning strategy should be implemented and commitment in the field of 85 86 87 88 Ministry of Education. Amongst the micro-economic priorities there were actions to boost R&D and make the business environment more attractive to contribute effectively to growth and jobs. Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council. as required by the Lisbon Strategy’. and increased research and development. growth and employment’— highlighted five priorities to boost output growth and employment. long-term fiscal sustainability. protecting the environment. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. available at http://www. On the contrary. timetables and details on monitoring and evaluation procedures particularly in the micro-economic area. microelectronics and biomedical technologies. the Commission pointed out that the measures contained in the Italian programme were considered by the Commission to be ‘realistic and valuable measures’ most of which were ‘already planned or on-going’. at 1–6. op cit n 82 supra. 649 . greater innovation. Ministero dell’Economia e della Finanza. University and Research. According to the then Italian Minister of Education. instrumental mechanics. weaknesses are the resources and facilities of the scientific system. This requires more investment.88 In 2006 the Government presented the implementation report addressing some of the weaknesses identified by the Commission. strengthening education and training. Ms Moratti. Guidelines for the Italian R&D Policy (2003–2006).87 The Commission pointed out that to attain the competitiveness target stronger measures were needed in fiscal sustainability. In its 2006 Annual Progress Report (APR). op cit n 25 supra. Seventy per cent of the overall funding was allocated to infrastructure. granting incentives for scientific research and technological innovation. The Government is aware that a gradual increase in the growth rate of the economy ‘can only take place if total factor productivity pulls out of the long standstill of the past few years. Italy was invited to implement such goals in an effective.85 The PNR has identified strengths and weaknesses of the Italian research market. such as for example providing more concrete targets. Linee Guida per la Politica Scientifica e Tecnologica del Governo. strengths of the Italian research market are peaks of excellence in traditional sectors and also in areas such as robotics. The programme focuses largely on the micro-economic area. even though they were ‘not always accompanied by timetables or information on monitoring and evaluation procedures’.

Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council. such as for example the university reform.89 Amongst the reforms proposed in the NRP to enhance competition in all markets.92 The Commission is still dissatisfied with the R&D policy as the original NRP presented no targets for R&D spending whilst the reinforced NPR is still incomplete. Attention in this paper is devoted to the implementation of those reforms for the achievement of the Lisbon competitiveness goal. compared with the EU average of 1. Notwithstanding its main employment priority the overall funding included in the original NRP for it. the Italian government. not always sufficiently detailed to allow evaluation of their adequacy’. Only 0. Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri. CREST Expert Group 2006. op cit n 25 supra. ‘PICO-Piano per l’Innovazione.93 In relation to the employment policies. op cit n 35 supra. available at http://polaris. Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council. was very limited. in line with the 2006 CRESTreport. there is a measure aiming at the reduction of Italy’s dependence on traditional sectors to foster SME growth and new business development.dit.46% of GDP R&D spending is from private sources. at 5.European Law Journal Volume 14 fiscal sustainability needs to be translated into action. The NRP expresses some reservations in general on the relevance of the 3% parameter and in particular in relation to the Italian industrial context. It suggests a system of tax credits and reorganisation of incentives to encourage private R&D investment with no estimate on how these new schemes really leverage private R&D. This is a challenge the Italian economic policy is facing over the next 5 years. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. fiscal measures were introduced in the NRP to make R&D more attractive for companies. The Commission expressed some reservations in relation to the 2003 education and training reform (operational as from 2007–2008) and university reform and affirmed that significantly more efforts are needed to boost educational and training levels up to the EU average. 650 . The Commission’s 2007 Annual Progress Report considered some of the employment measures ‘especially in terms of content.27%.94 C Progress Made in Relation to the Lisbon Competitiveness Agenda Some of the reforms proposed to achieve the Lisbon objectives have not been implemented yet or are stopped. Research and Innovation in the National Reform Programme—Opportunities for policy learning and co-operation (2006).90 Such a target seems too ambitious considering the peculiarity of the Italian industrial research market.pdf. 89 90 91 92 93 94 Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council. 8. la Crescita e l’Occupazione. ibid. at 10. Lisbon Export Group. considered employment ‘endogenous’ to the competitiveness element.upm. as two thirds of 3% should be funded by the private sector. COM (2005) 24. The large number of SMEs is seen as being responsible for the low levels of private investment in R&D made in the country.91 For such an aim. Despite some developments. timetables and results. LEG%20report%201%20-%20final5. Piano italiano in attuazione del rilancio della Strategia europea di Lisbona’. op cit n 25 supra. at 6. The NPR proposed a reform of the education system to enable those who do not go into higher education to acquire general education and vocational training for future work. the overall R&D strategy was considered by the Commission still to be incomplete. It considered education and training a priority in its agenda to increase employment rates and reduce regional employment disparities.

The ‘formal function’ of Italy’s budgetary procedure is to establish the benchmark for the annual budget that is enacted subsequently in the Budget Law. CREST Expert Group 2006. n 262.html. 2007). addresses the issues of Italy’s high public debt and low potential GDP growth rate.97 Most of the reforms are annexes or are regulations accompanying the Budget Law. since. Researchers have been giving some incentives to commercialise research and promote cooperation between academia and industry through the introduction of specific grants for R&D. arguably meritocracy will be the ground for the allocation of resources to universities.98 Despite this. available at http://www. comma 138.governo. after approval by Parliament. There has been a shift from block grants to a project based system on an attempt to achieve organisational and cultural progress. ‘Legal and administrative organisation of the assessment of impact of legislation in the Italian Parliament’. op cit n 82 supra).100 This element needed to be taken into consideration to be in line with the Barcelona target of 95 96 97 98 99 100 The DPEF.95 The DPEF establishes a multi-year frametime and indicates the government’s actions and objectives. It is still too early to assess whether the creation of this independent evaluation agency for universities and research will increase the efficiency of public spending. Ministry of Education. For further details on the budget bills. Accompanying Decree to the 2007 Budget Law (Decreto di accompagnamento della Finanziaria per il 2007.7%. referring to the three underlying objectives of growth. Its aims for the years 2007–2011 are a decline of the public debt. op cit n 76 supra. is the main general instrument combining financial constraints and growth targets. which is submitted by the Government and approved by the Parliament.pdf. Consiglio dei Ministri.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw Two recent are trying to tackle some of these problems. recovery and equity.99 Recruiting and developing researchers for academia and industry is a key area of concern that the National Research Programme 2003–2006 aimed to tackle. n 286). Rizzoni. is the way funding is directed to Italian universities. op cit n 35 supra. An improvement. External engagements are necessary to increase or even maintain current funding levels. which governs most research institutes in Italy have changed. convertito con modificazioni. (2001) Proceedings of ECPRD Seminar. On 5 April 2007 the Italian Government has approved a regulation outlining the structure and operation of the national evaluation agency for universities and research (Anvur).riigikogu. 9. the relation between deficit/GDP falling below the threshold of 3% and a raising of the growth rate of the GDP by 1. see G. The rules governing access to funding for researchers employed at the National Research Council (CNR).96 Although highly debated the 2007 Budget Law (Legge Finanziaria). 651 . consequently. art 2. The Document lays it down in the form of public finance balances which. available at http://www. It sets goals and suggests legislative reforms. constitute the limits within which decisions must be taken at the subsequent “budget session” where overall government income and expenditure are set’ (Ministero dell’Economia e della Finanza. based upon institutional transfer from the Ministry of University and Research (MUR). decreto-legge 3 ottobre 2006. which are the Economic and Financial Planning Document (DPEF) (2007–2011) and. at 10. research and innovation resources tend to be concentrated on specific sectoral projects rather than on structural measures with a potentially broader economic impact. Budget law 2007 (Legge finanziaria) No 1746-bis/B and Law No 262/2006—Disposizioni urgenti in materia tributaria e finanziaria (collegato alla Finanziaria. or opened to other actors. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Academic research funding is now subject to competition for grants either reserved for universities. the 2007 Budget Law (Legge Finanziaria). dalla legge 24 novembre at least on paper. Economic and Financial Planning Document (DPEF) (2006–2009) 7 July 2006. being based on the DPEF.

but is also an example of the importance of networks.103 The Commission has pressurised Italy to provide information on recent education and training reforms. The Government has introduced a new tax credit system to stimulate private research investments and financial incentives for promoting knowledge exchange between academia and industry to encourage business cooperation with research institutions. ibid. op cit n 88 supra. op cit n 25 supra. the reform in reality was stopped.106 Any region can apply to MUR for the formalisation of a Technology District. at 44. at 9. It has also outlined that the Government has failed to propose detailed measures aimed for example at increasing researchers’ mobility or at the reform and internationalisation of universities. See Budget Law 2007. The new Budget law partially addresses the problem trying to retain researchers but fails to provide adequate mechanisms to attract to the country Italian or foreign scholars working abroad.104 This has established the ‘Fondo per le Agevolazioni alla Ricerca’. D A Proposed Solution: The Hybrid Legal Framework Notwithstanding some minor progresses. Morano-Foadi.105 Its aim is a shared vision for the future development of the region based on synergies between its intellectual and industrial actors such as the national and regional government. Doubts are raised in relation to the effectiveness of the transfer of practice mechanism between different regions within the same state or among diverse member states. seeking in particular to engage SMEs. examples of good practice in the cooperation between business (in particular SMEs) and the public sector (Ministries and the Regions). The FAR has provided an integrated set of tools primarily targeted to industrial research and pre-competitive development. op cit n 80 supra. The country needs to improve its R&D base to avoid 101 102 103 104 105 106 Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council. technology dissemination and mobility of researchers’. to be co-financed by FAR. Despite the introduction of these initiatives. CREST Expert Group 2006.102 Italy has the highest average age for university researchers in Europe and a very low index of researchers/support staff compared to other systems. including the stalled university reform. The recruitment system is still based on cumbersome recruitment procedure.101 A number of drastic changes need to be introduced as a matter of urgency and the Government is promising a reform without delivering it. This law is entitled ‘Reorganisation of measures and simplification of procedures in support of scientific and technological research. ie the concorsi system and the issue of brain drain requires proper policy responses. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. art 40. 652 . results are still to come as Italy has lost its international competitiveness. op cit n 35 supra. universities and companies. The Technology District model reflects Italy’s growing strong regional structure.European Law Journal Volume 14 increasing research staff as part of the competitiveness goal. at 5. Law n 297/99 is aimed at creating a favourable context for industrial investments in research. one of the weaknesses of Italy is regional disparities particularly in terms of employment rate and R&D investment. CREST Expert Group 2006. National actors are compared to a tailor who sews together the different actors in a complex system through the scope of research projects and funding incentives. literally ‘Funds for incentives to research’ (FAR) and Technology District considered by the CREST Report. Although the country reported to be engaged in the reform of recruitment of the university personnel and the restructuring of the national research centres.

107 The extent to which Italy fulfils the Lisbon objectives depends on its policy priority. Notwithstanding the Commission and the peer pressure. Although it is undoubtedly the case that Italy has a flexible and diverse production base and SMEs do not readily engage in R&D activities. To regain competitiveness the country needs to show a real commitment to the Lisbon strategy and therefore should direct its efforts towards research and innovation. Italy needs to improve its overall performance taking into account structural diversities of productivity dependent on sectoral and territorial dualisms. As such a hybrid legal framework based on framework directives and the OMC processes would suit better the Italian situation. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Italy has failed to implement its plans as submitted to the Commission. This system would force Italy to adopt R&D policies compatible with the EU research policy as in case of infringements of Community law the Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) would be involved in the process. in future 107 108 Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council. Italy can easily escape its responsibility towards the Lisbon agenda. in the case of proposed reforms not implemented. there is no sign of ownership of the Lisbon objectives. fail to provide a powerful enforcement mechanism. It has often interrupted reforms due to sudden changes in its internal priority or in the political scene. Lisbon Export Group. To be credible there needs to be a sufficiently long-term commitment. As no effective control mechanisms are in place. The Commission foresees the need for Italy to present a clearer strategy which covers all policy areas and the links between them. An interrupted or stagnant reform ‘can be interpreted to be a sign of lack of true government commitment’ and ‘can seriously corrode the trust and reduce the commitment of the private sector’.September 2008 The Missing Piece of the Lisbon Jigsaw losing its standing in world competitiveness. op cit n 25 supra. This is not a sign of ownership of the ERA concept or the Lisbon agenda. One of the main problems the country faces is the capacity to translate action plans into practical measures and this was acknowledged by the Commission in its annual report. at 7. Instead of creating the necessary trust of the private sector towards the government. Under such circumstances a pure coincidence of internal and European priority agendas is not an effective enforcement model to achieve the Lisbon target by 2010. which could force the government to implement the promised reform and give continuity even under an instable political scene. at 6. In particular. This is in part the reason why there is lack of commitment to the specifics of the EU agenda. The Government has admitted the need to increase R&D investments but it has considered the lack of private investments responsible for the poor performance of R&D policies. the private sector’s trust depends on the government’s track record in setting similar objectives. op cit n 84 supra. it is not satisfied with the overall R&D strategy and has invited the Italian government to present. such as for example in the case of the university reform.108 To obtain significant advancement in the R&D field it is vital that the government commitment in the form of R&D and innovation budget is accompanied by implementation of concrete policy measures. Trust by the private sector will be obtained if there is an effective ‘control and sanctions’ system. 653 . Peer pressure and Commission’s annual reporting system are good incentives for the country but. The sanction element then would impose implementing the measures needed to be in line with Lisbon and eventually Italy would make the efforts and find adequate internal leeway. Any convergence with the Lisbon strategy is happy coincidence as the peer review system works in policy areas considered at the top of its domestic agenda.

whilst the Northern European countries would be more prone to apply good practices compatible to their political and social systems. op cit n 25 supra. The Italian case is presented as an exemplification of the way and the extent to which the ‘convergence’ element between European and national research policies is achieved and as such is not extensible to all Member States. the Commission has invited Italy to implement its NRP with vigour. Arguably. Reference to the Italian research policy has illustrated how in some cases the OMC might not achieve the ‘consistency’ objective for the lack of a powerful enforcement mechanism in relation to transfer of best practices. which was chosen to overcome national and regional diversities amongst Member States in relation to research policy. which prima facie might be present in other Southern and Eastern European Countries requires an effective ‘control and sanctions’ system. including tackling regional disparities and education and lifelong learning. Taking due account of the above. Therefore a hybrid model comprising framework directives and soft law methods would be a good compromise able to respond to the need of each Member State respecting country diversities. its working would pretty much differ amongst Member States. First submitted: June 2007 Final draft accepted: December 2007 109 Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council.109 Legitimate doubts lie on the real commitment the Italian government will show in implementing its action-plans. Southern and Eastern European states would need a more regulative system. has shown some limitations. in principle. Although. labour supply and employment rates. competition. the hybrid model of hard and soft law might represent a suitable approach to the research and innovation policy area for all the European Member States. 654 . progress in relation to fiscal sustainability. The peculiarity of the Italian system. VI Conclusion Research and innovation have been considered the milestones on which the Lisbon competitiveness goal is based. © 2008 The Author Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.European Law Journal Volume 14 reports on the implementation of the NRP. Yet the flexible tool of the OMC. Despite so. the OMC tool would assist in the complex research and innovation field.

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