Counteracting the COVID-19 Crisis with Innovation Policy Tools: A Case Study of the EU’s Supranational Innovation Policy
Purpose: In June 2018, the European Union (“EU”) decided to use missions as tools of innovation policy in accordance with the market-shaping, mission-oriented innovation policy approach. It stemmed from the EU’s efforts to improve the efficiency of innovation policy when it comes to handling major social challenges. In the first quarter of 2020, the EU had to unexpectedly face another social challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic and social crisis that followed. This article analyses the actions undertaken by the EU at the supranational level within its innovation policy in relation to the COVID-19 crisis. It also aims to assess the coherence of the EU’s interventions with the mission-oriented innovation policy approach implemented and promoted by the EU. Design/Methodology/Approach: The research is descriptive and analytical in nature. First, it covers a case study of the EU’s supranational innovation policy. Second, it searches, on a theoretical level, for the reasons of discrepancies between the market-shaping and mission-oriented policy approach promoted by the EU and the interventions that the EU in fact conducts in relation to the COVID-19 crisis. Findings: The results of the research point to certain incoherence in the EU’s innovation policy when tackling major policy platforms. On one hand, the EU implements and promotes a mission-oriented policy as a more efficient way of solving major social challenges. On the other hand, its actions (and plans) hardly consider the application of an innovation policy mission as a means for fighting the most recent and crucial challenge, namely the COVID-19 crisis. Originality/Value: This is the first study to point out the incoherence that currently characterise the EU’s innovation policy on the supranational level.