Monday, 2 May 2011

”Wide ownership” of Europe 2020 strategy – and more intense

The European Union and the EU member states have programmes for competitiveness in and of Europe, but the Europe 2020 growth strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (EU2020) and the relaunch of the Single Market (through the Single Market Act SMA) need to develop much beyond ritualistic planning and reporting chores for a handful of EU and central government officials.

”Wide ownership”

At least, the spring meeting of the European Council 24 to 25 March 2011 (EUCO 10/11) paid lip service to the need to engage all stakeholders, but the summit silently dismissed the demand from the Committee of the Regions to create territorial growth pacts:

6. In implementing these policies, and in order to ensure wide ownership, close cooperation will be maintained with the European Parliament and other EU institutions and advisory bodies (ESC, CoR), with the full involvement of national parliaments, social partners, regions and other stakeholders.

Regarding the challenge from the CoR and support from the European Parliament and the Commission, see the blog post (in Swedish) 'Regionerna utmanar EU-rådet: Pakt och partnerskap för EU2020-strategin' and (in English) 'Europe 2020 strategy: Regions challenge central governments', published just before the ides of March.

Having thwarted the regional ambitions, what are the European Council, the Council (of ministers) and the EU member states going to do to create at least a sense of wider ownership, even if lacking empowerment?

How are they going to manifest their own ownership more intensely?

They make or break the reform strategies for competitiveness, but how often do we see signs of the EU2020 strategy and the SMA at the top of the political agenda in the member states?

How much of a wider debate do we notice?

Hungarian benchmark

At this point, I am far from convinced that the EU2020 strategy will prove to be a greater success than the lost decade of the Lisbon strategy, even if proactive reform policies are crucial for the prosperity and the public services of Europeans.

However, even in dire circumstances there are almost always pockets of excellence to be found.

The Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union communicated brilliantly about the informal meeting of research ministers on innovation challenges 11 to 13 April 2011.

Is the Council secretariat prepared to improve the Consilium web pages by including links to future informal ministerial meetings of the different Council configurations? Is the next presidency trio – Poland, Denmark and Cyprus (Wikipedia) - ready to equal or surpass the benchmark set by Hungary regarding the meeting of the ministers for research?


We have to find and to nurture pockets of excellence, necessary to promote and communicate both wider and more intense ownership of the Europe 2020 growth strategy and other reform programmes, such as the Single Market Act and the Small Business Act, based on the sustainable foundations of the Stability or Convergence Programmes.

Ralf Grahn

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