Intergovernmental collaboration in the area of big science has been an important resource for European science since the 1950s. Yet, as a policy area, it has traditionally been left outside of the political integration work of the European Community/Union. Despite this formal detachment, the political realities of the collaborations often draw upon and reflect the (geo)political dynamics of Europe. This article reports on a study of two big projects in the making (the European Spallation Source and the European X-ray Free Electron Laser), and uses two historical cases for comparison (the European Laboratory for Nuclear Research and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility). It highlights critical issues in establishing and operating collaborations, relates these to the broader context of European political integration, and discusses, on the basis of this, signs of continuity and change in this distinct area of European research policy.
European scientific collaboration; big science; international science policy
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