Thursday, 17 June 2010

Note on European Council’s agenda and background note (17 June 2010)

Yesterday, the last day before the 17 June 2010 European Council, we were happy to announce the publication of the provisional agenda drafted by president Herman Van Rompuy (document EUCO 12/10), a background note from the Council’s press office and Van Rompuy’s invitation letter to the EU heads of state or government.

The road to prosperity or destitution for 500 million Europeans is expressed in a few brief words on one agenda item:

3. A new European strategy for jobs and growth
- Finalising and implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy
- Enhancing economic governance
- Regulating financial markets

Council’s background note

The background note from the Council’s press office briefly describes the issues at hand:

A new European strategy for jobs and growth

The European Council is due to finalise Europe 2020, the EU's new strategy for jobs and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and start concentrating on implementation.

The strategy will help Europe recover from the crisis and come out stronger, both internally and at the international level, by boosting competitiveness, productivity, growth potential, social cohesion and economic convergence. The new strategy responds to the challenge of reorienting policies away from crisis management towards the introduction of medium- to longer-term reforms that promote growth and ensure the sustainability of public finances.

The European Council is expected to confirm five EU headline targets which will constitute shared objectives guiding the action of Member States and the Union as regards
- the promotion of employment ;
- the improvement of the conditions for innovation, research and development;
- meeting of the EU’s climate change and energy objectives;
- the improvement of education levels; and
- the promotion of social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty.

The European Council is expected to agree on the quantification of the education and social inclusion/poverty indicators and it will endorse the integrated guidelines for the economic and employment policies.

Member States will have to act to implement these policies at their level, as well as to identify the main bottlenecks to growth and indicate how they intend to tackle them in their National Reform Programmes.

The President of the Task Force on economic governance, Herman Van Rompuy, will present a progress report to the European Council. On this basis, the European Council will discuss its orientations on how to further enhance the coordination of Member States’ economic policies, in particular as regards budgetary and broader macroeconomic surveillance.

Finally the European Council is expected to set orientations for further work on strengthening the regulation and supervision of financial markets.


The publication of the clearly written official background note from the European Council is a positive development.

However, no concrete proposals, detailed reasons or links to relevant documents are on offer.

This means that the European Council’s standards of governance and transparency still reflect its origins as an intimate fireside chat, not the role of the most important official institution of a union of half a billion people.

It seems necessary for media and active individuals to try to fill at least parts of the official communication near-vacuum, by producing their own background notes and in depth articles.

Ahead of the European Council, many of the Grahnlaw blog entries (headlines on the right) in June have looked at issues pertaining to the EU’s new economic strategy, but now there is only time to fill a few of the remaining gaps left by the official advance communication.

Ralf Grahn