WASHINGTON—On the second Wednesday of each month, a dozen diplomatic science advisers gather behind closed doors at the French embassy here and talk about the future. The diplomats represent the 12 nations of the European Community (EC), and the focus of their discussion is 1992, the year targeted for the establishment of a unified European economy. Although the EC now controls only a small share of the funds that Europe spends on science, that share is expected to grow considerably in the next decade. And the EC has already sent a clear message to United States scientists: Their participation in European projects, at least at first, will be by invitation only.

“We are principally concerned with the inside-Europe collaborations,” says one EC official. “We have to keep the momentum of our internal integration. If we can later find the correct arguments for outside collaboration, we will be ready. But we’re...

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