It is a dizzying gamble and there are billions of euros riding on the outcome. If the wager pays off, Europe will hold its own against mighty China and the US; if not, the entire project will be regarded in hindsight as a breathtakingly indulgent folly. I refer, of course, not to the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s EU membership but to the European Commission’s announcement last week that it would be launching a €1bn plan to explore “quantum technologies”. It is the third of the commission’s Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship projects — visionary megaprojects lasting a decade or more. These are challenges too grand — and bets too risky — for a single nation to square up to on its own.