Résumé : In this paper we propose an historical sketch of the evolution of the philosophy behind the European policies regarding education and training systems. We stress the latest evolutions as the knowledge-based economy perspective and the neo-schumpeterian perspective. We address some critical comments both at the general level and from the point of view of less developed economies, sometimes eager to mimick the European strategy (devised in another context and explicitly for countries at the technological frontier) – even if the latter has explicitly been designed for the highly developed economies and not for those still in the phase of catching up.