For Europe, a new and eagerly anticipated era begins in 1992. That’s the year in which the 12 nations of the European Economic Community (EEC) will abolish the last of the internal trade barriers that have made Europe an economic and technological hodge-podge ever since the EEC was created in 1957.

Among other benefits, 1992 will harmonize the standards, specifications, and regulations that have governed virtually every European product or service—from new pharmaceuticals to life-insurance policies. For companies operating in more than one EEC nation, that crazy-quilt of standards has meant a costly multiplicity of product designs, packaging, and regulatory procedures. And so everyone from perfume makers to the big auto companies anticipates bigger profits when 1992 finally rolls around.

But corporate science is not waiting for 1992. In recent years researchers in European industry have jumped the gun, forging their own technological “common market.” Programs to promote intra-European joint...

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