Pan-European research infrastructures (RIs) have been labelled a ‘pillar’ of the European Research Area initiative and ‘engines’ which are expected to drive forward the European Union (EU) economy by advancing its science and technology and ultimately its competitiveness on the global arena. The focus of this article is on the origins and nature of a policy tool named the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), introduced by the EU in 2008 specifically for the purpose of stimulating and simplifying the set-up and operation of pan-European RIs.
The article offers an analysis of ERIC from the perspectives of legal, organisational and science policy studies. The findings demonstrate that enactment of the legal instrument signals the increasing involvement of a supranational body in a traditionally intergovernmental context of science policy. ERIC as a legal framework is characterised by its flexible nature in the sense that members of ERIC enjoy a significant discretion as to, for example, internal structure and financing. The taxonomy of twenty RIs which have to date been set up under ERIC status underlines the all-encompassing nature of the legal tool, which raises a number of further scholarly questions addressed here.
research infrastructures, European Research Infrastructure Consortium, policy instrument, Scientific collaboration, Consortium, Intergovernmental legal instrument
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