Friday 15 January 2010

Innovating Europe and the knowledge society

Since yesterday I have been able to access the work programme of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union in English and in Spanish:

The Programme for the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 1 January – 30 June 2010: Innovating Europe (52 pages).

Programa de la Presidencia Española del Consejo de la Unión Europea 1 de enero a 30 de junio 2010: Innovando Europa.

The name – Innovating Europe – sounds promising from the perspective of the European knowledge society.

Now we take a look at the contents (using the English version of the work programme).

EU 2020

The government of Spain evokes the new growth and employment strategy (aimed to succeed the ill-fated Lisbon strategy) as a coordination instrument to structure a new growth model. The need for increased efficiency and commitment by member states is correctly stated. The comparative advantage of the European economy should be based on competitiveness, innovation and knowledge (page 8):

The New Strategy should offer a renewed momentum to investment in research, development and innovation, for which the new European Innovation Plan will be crucial.

The European Research Area (ERA) and R&D&I activities are dealt with on page 36 to 37.


Under the Transport, telecommunications and energy (TTE) Council formation the Spanish presidency promises to promote a debate about the approval of a European Charter of Rights of Telecommunication Service Users, which should include broadband access as part of the Universal Service (page 38).

The Spanish Council presidency will promote E-government services:

Citizens’ rights will also be enhanced through the 2010-2015 European Action Plan for Electronic Administration, advancing on the right to communication via electronic media and electronic identification of citizens.

Information society

Still under telecommunications, but worth full quotes are the paragraphs on the new information society strategy, known as the European Digital Agenda. It is planned to succeed the current i2010 strategy (page 38):

Efforts will be put into the approval of the New 2010-2015 Strategy to promote the Information Society (i2010 follow-up). The Presidency will encourage a joint debate with Member States to improve Information Society indicators, as well as the deployment of cutting-edge networks, increased networks security and protection of intellectual and industrial property on the Internet.

The Internet of the Future will be boosted: new products, applications, processes and services, all of them resulting from the aforementioned reforms and current and future sector trends.

European Council

The presidency programme is quite vague. The crucial matter is how these general aims are going to be translated into ambitious decisions, which lead to concrete and decisive action, mainly in the member states.

The European Council is the institution which provides the European Union with the impetus for its development, but the heads of state or government are also the ones who set the limits.

After the disappointing decade of the Lisbon strategy, the success or failure of the Spanish Council presidency will depend on what it manages to feed into the extraordinary European Council on 11 February and the Spring European Council on 25 to 26 March 2010.

It is a tall order.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Written by Conor Slowey, in Northern Ireland, The European Citizen deals with political and legal issues of European integration in a thoughtful manner. The European Citizen is one of the more than 500 great euroblogs on steadily growing multilingual, a useful one-stop-shop for fact, opinion and gossip on European affairs, i.a. politics, policies, communication, economics, finance and law.

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