Increasing the potential and quality of the intellectual resources of a society by the means of higher education (which in consequence leads to an acceleration in the development of a knowledge- based economy) plays a very important role in the intensifying process of integration. This article presents activities supporting research and scientific activity and international cooperation among European Union states and the consequent differentiation of intellectual resources in national and regional systems in the light of selected indices and synthetic measures. Furthermore, the role of personal traits and attitudes towards enterprise, which enable active participation in the integration process, is also emphasised. The analyses conducted indicate that there is a significant differentiation in the potential and the quality of intellectual resources in the European zone. A highly competitive position of national and regional systems largely results from various levels of social development, the policies within the scope of the shaping of a knowledge-based economy and financial backing given to research and development activities and tertiary-level education, combined with international cooperation in these areas. The levelling of any existing discrepancies in Europe should take place by means of increasing the quality of intellectual resources.