Friday, 9 March 2012

EU leaders: ”Oops, we forgot our strategy”

In its conclusions, the European Council suddenly remembered that it already has a comprehensive strategy for growth, competitiveness and employment: Europe 2020 (EU2020). The heads of state or government need to breathe life into their common strategy, because they frankly admit that their efforts to date are insufficient.


I strongly recommend president Herman Van Rompuy's strategic and elegant Issues Paper, written ahead of the spring European Council, but for some inexplicable reason he evaded the Europe 2020 strategy (EU2020).

The twelve prime ministers who wrote A plan for growth in Europe, calling for more resolute reform policies, as resolutely forgot to mention that the EU already has the EU2020 strategy.

EU2020 resurrected

It took the reply from Commission president José Manuel Barroso to remind these leaders of the existing strategy for this decade:

We have agreed on an ambitious and comprehensive growth and jobs strategy: Europe 2020. Our common ownership of it needs to be more visible to our citizens. They need to know that the EU has a clear strategy for building a better future and that all Member States are working in the same direction. There should be no artificial separation between EU and national growth policies, they reinforce each other.

The conclusions of the European Council (EUCO 4/12) then turned into a strong reminder of the crucial role of the Europe 2020 strategy and of the need to step up efforts significantly:

2. "Europe 2020" is Europe's strategy for jobs and growth and its comprehensive response to the challenges it is facing. In particular, the five targets set out for 2020 remain fully relevant and will continue to guide the action of Member States and the Union to promote employment; improve the conditions for innovation, research and development; meet our climate change and energy objectives; improve education levels and promote social inclusion in particular through the reduction of poverty.

3. However, efforts undertaken to date remain insufficient to meet most of these targets. It is therefore urgent to concentrate on the implementation of reforms, with a particular attention to measures which have a short-term effect on jobs and growth.
Much better. But why did it happen? How credible does the commitment look, when all these reform-minded leaders were happy to forget even the existence of EU2020, their common strategy for a decade of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth?

Will they still remember, having returned home?

Our reading tip for them and their officials is: Progress Report on the Europe 2020 Strategy COM(2011) 815 Annex I.

Ralf Grahn
speaker on EU affairs, especially digital policy and law

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