The Politics of European Collaboration in Big Science

  • Olof HallonstenEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


Intergovernmental collaboration in Big Science has been an important resource for European science since the 1950s, as a means to compete on global level. But interestingly, collaboration in (basic) science has traditionally been left outside of the political integration work of the European Community/Union, which has resulted in a cluttered policy field and a situation where European Big Science collaborations are built on ad hoc solutions rather than a coherent political framework and common regulatory standards. Despite this formal detachment, however, the genesis and development of collaborations, and their political realities once launched, often draw upon and reflect the ordinary (geo)political dynamics of Europe. This chapter reports on four historical and two contemporary cases of European collaboration in Big Science, from CERN in the 1950s to the currently planned European Spallation Source (ESS), all well-documented by previous studies, showing that while scientific and technical preconditions doubtlessly impact the fate of these Big Science installations, the logic and cycles of high-level politics in Europe always plays a role and can, in some cases, be said to have been decisive for the realization of a collaborative effort. Always balancing between national interest and the common good, European collaboration in Big Science is thus no different from the process of EC/EU integration, despite being formally detached therefrom. Using a historical perspective to make justice to the rather small collection of cases to study, the chapter covers a distinct instance of where science and technology is directly affected by international politics.


Big Science CERN Common market European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) European Organization for Nuclear Research European Union Franco-German entente 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education and Social SciencesWuppertal UniversityWuppertalGermany

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