How effective is EU cooperation in higher education? This article treats the issue as one of effectiveness in policy-making. What are the policy ideas which the EU wishes to feed into a policy domain where it has to operate largely through political cooperation and a modest degree of incentive funding? What outcomes are possible? The question is of interest since Europe has two processes which aim for a better regional integration of higher education in order to boost the quality of European higher education and to make a global impact. These are the world- famous Bologna Process and the EU process to drive Europe's universities to make better use of their interlinked roles of education, research and innovation, part of a larger strategy (EU 2020, Lisbon) for European Union growth to support employment, productivity and social cohesion. Building on the theoretical insights of an institutionalist literature concerned with the dynamics of European policy-making in the knowledge domain (Maassen & Olsen, 2007; Gornitzka, 2006, 2010) and complementary theories of historical institutionalism (Pierson, 2003, Thelen, 2003) and agenda setting (Kingdon, 1995), this article examines policy-making on higher education cooperation in the European arena since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. It seeks answers to two questions. Why did the Bologna Process dominate the agenda from 1999 to 2004? How did the European Commission acquire the power to shape the issue of European higher education cooperation? Rejecting simple spillover explanations, it theorises in terms of policy entrepreneurship why the EU has latterly been effective in shaping European cooperation in higher education
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