Saturday, 19 March 2011

The real Europe 2020 summit?

In a few days, the political leaders of the EU member states meet to assess progress towards the strategic economic goals of the European Union and to inspire improved performance on the reform trail.

This is the first spring European Council during the European Semester and the Europe 2020 strategy. The new policy cycle was kicked off by the Annual Growth Survey (AGS), which summarises ten priority actions discussed in more detail in various reports and Council conclusions.

In addition to improving macro-economic coordination, an important part of the European Council 24 to 25 March 2011 challenge relates to the Europe 2020 Strategy (EU2020), the EU's growth strategy for this decade.

Not only should there be economic growth, but the European Union should enjoy the rewards of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Lisbon Council

Ahead of the real summit for growth and jobs, the think tank The Lisbon Council arranged a timely high level seminar called The Europe 2020 Summit.

José Manuel Barroso

Yesterday I discussed the keynote address by José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, in a post on Grahnlaw Suomi Finland: Europe 2020: Pipe dream or saviour of the decade?

An Action Plan for Europe 2020

The conference saw the publication of an interesting Lisbon Council policy brief 'An Action Plan for Europe 2020: Strategic Advice for the Post-Crisis World' (32 pages), with contributions by twelve authors.

By offering one short(ened) quote per contributor, I hope to whet your appetite for the whole of the publication.

Ann Mettler: At some point, Europe has to do what it purportedly set out to do.

Wim Kok: We have always known that implementation was Europe's weak spot, so the question of enforcement is key.

Andreas Schleicher: Countries need to improve their skill base throughout the population and capitalise on the full potential of all individuals.

Enrico Giovanni: For an ambitious, all-encompassing strategy like Europe 2020, indicators must be as close to people as possible, as widely disseminated as possible, as shared by stakeholders as possible, and as well and regularly used by media as possible to make them central in the public discourse.

Martin Schuurmans: Entrepreneurship (combined with higher education) and better understanding of customers, markets and sales channels are the key drivers of innovation.

Alessandro Leipold: This broad strategy has been narrowed down in the Commission's Annual Growth Survey into 10 priority actions, endorsed by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council a month ago. The primary concern now must be to give these actions teeth and see to their full implementation.

Harry Verhaar: Today, as we tackle the triple challenge of dwindling global resources (energy, raw materials, water and food), sustainability and climate change, the direction we need to go is crystal clear, but the momentum is just too weak. We are simply not getting to the solutions quickly enough.

Geoff Mulgan: As the Innovation Union strategy recognised, for Europe to thrive, innovation has to be cultivated in every field.

Žiga Turk: Today, Europe does not have a single company among the top 20 in BusinessWeek's Tech 100 list. Europe's failure to be competitive in the ICT sector is just a symptom. The causes are deeper.

Mark Spelman: Ageing, resource constraint and new technologies are three examples of underexploited potential growth sectors.

Sören Stamer: Europe tends to optimise existing structures, while Silicon Valley has a greater appetite for radical change.

Parag Khanna: European leaders cannot let internal economic obstacles overcome the imperative of building a long-term basis for growth and inlfuence on the world stage.

Real summit?

Practically every contributor offers policy recommendations worth consideration and more: implementation.

If the European Council is not up to that, perhaps the Lisbon Council conference was the real EU2020 summit after all.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Today's Grahnlaw recommendation is one of my favourite French blogs on legal and political issues: Diner's room, by Jules.