First attempts to launch a sort of cooperation in this field

at the European level are quite faraway. The European Atomic

Energy Community (EURATOM) founded in 1957 can be deemed

the first example of the European integration in research and

innovation policy (Grande, 2001, p. 912). However, after the crisis of

EURATOM inmid-1960s the cooperation among European countries

was prevalently outside the Community framework such as in the

aviator sector with the Anglo-French collaboration in Concorde

and the Franco-German one relating to Airbus. Moreover, in 1975

the European Space Agency was established in the framework

of international organizations, thus, again, outside the European

Community’s scope. In this period, the Community efforts towards

a greater internal cooperation failed. For instance, the Community

cooperation in data processing (Eurodata, Unidata) in late 1960s

and 1970s did not gain the expected success. In 1980s the decline

of European industries in key sectors such as microelectronics and

data processing and the US dominance in international markets

with the surge of new key actors, such as Japan, led to a favourable

climate triggered by the ‘technology gap’ debate (Grande, 2001, p.

912). With the First Framework Program (FP1) in 1983 the ground

for a common research and innovation policy at the Community

level was established. In following years, a ‘new generation of

programs’ tried to foster the growth of high-tech industries deemed

strategic in fostering the economic development and industry

competitiveness (Grande, 2001, p. 912). For example, in early 1980s

a new Community’s program in R&D in information technology

industry, called ESPRIT, became the ‘flagship’ in technology policy

in Europe (Grande, 2001, p. 913). From 1998 with the FP5 to the

2000 Lisbon Treaty the European Union pushed to the integration

between States and innovation, as well as their funding. In this

cultural climate, research in emerging technologies was increasingly

perceived as fundamental in pursuing the goal of making the Europe

one of the most competitive economies in the world, together

with US and Japan.2 In this regard in 2000 the European Research

Area (ERA) initiative was established at the European Council with

the aim of overcoming ‘national borders through direct funding,

increased mobility, and streamlined innovation policies’ (Grande,

2001, p. 913). The ERA’s ambition was of creating the fifth freedom

in Europe, namely the freedom of circulation of knowledge and

knowledge workers in order to lead to a ‘new renaissance’ for

Europe (de Saille, 2015). Thus ERA was partially implemented

through the FP6, leading to major changes with regard to the

organization of research in Europe. Not only in research funding

we can count a new meaningful trend. To the detriment of the

States’ domestic jurisdiction, Community acquired new skills and

competencies in several areas that are strategic for the regulation

of technological developments and the industrial competitiveness.

Guidelines for environmental protection, regulation of genetic

engineering, the liberalization of communication markets and data

protection transformed the European Union in one of the potential

key actors on the worldwide scene (Grande, 2001, p. 913). In this

framework emerging technologies were increasingly perceived by

the EU authorities as an extraordinary mean to fill the gap with

other economies. In front of the continuous rise of new promising

research fields, such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology, past

experiences with GMOs gave the European Union the chance to find

a wiser way to cope with the challenges of an ever-evolving world.

In this sense the experience with biotechnology sector became a

warning for each subsequent policy on emerging technologies. If

there are lessons to learn from it, they are the need of a greater

involvement of the public (societal trust is fundamental for the

success), a greater transparency (the rejection of the ‘substantial

equivalence’ criterion, or of the artificial process/product distinc-

tion which would justify the lack of labelling), a new approach to the

precautionary principle, which would not neglect it or overestimate

it (Metha, 2004). In particular, two directions seem to be recognized

in new technology policy in Europe: a better engagement of society

at early stage and a greater anticipation of both positive and negative

impacts of technology (Mandel, 2009). It is a common knowledge

that in emerging technologies actors are distributed at the global

level and the success or the failure of a field depends on the

rate of contribution of all parties (industries, enterprises, research

institutions, researchers, funding organizations, policymakers, non-

governmental organizations, civil society, etc.) (Ferrarese, 2010, p.

needs to be cultivated through the right balance among governance

tools, and, consequently, the distrust is the worst misfortune in

technology policy (Mandel, 2013, p. 60). For this reason, given the

current state of scientific, ethic and regulatory uncertainty related to

emerging technologies, the research community shares the opinion

that governance should be adaptive, proactive and flexible by

escaping forms of regulation too hard influenced by command-and-

control style (Mandel, 2013; Widmer et al. 2010; Kearnes and Rip,

2009; Stoke and Bowman, 2012). This governance model should

be able to adapt the existing regulations and to evolve following

the data gathering in order to respond to changing knowledge and

information, to foster self-regulatory attitude of all parties, to widen

the stakeholders’ participation, thus anticipating the regulator even

at early stage (Mandel, 2013, p. 59).