Monday 10 May 2010

EU Reflection Group delivered report: Project Europe 2030

We start by recalling the conclusions of the European Council 14 December 2007, one day after the Treaty of Lisbon was signed (document 16616/1/07). Reflections on “institutional” matters, current policies and the next long term budget were expressly prohibited:

Reflection Group horizon 2020-2030

8. In order to help the Union anticipate and meet challenges more effectively in the longer term (horizon 2020 - 2030), the European Council establishes an independent Reflection Group. Taking as its starting-point the challenges set out in the Berlin Declaration of 25 March 2007, the Group is invited to identify the key issues and developments which the Union is likely to face and to analyse how these might be addressed. This includes, inter alia: strengthening and modernising the European model of economic success and social responsibility, enhancing the competitiveness of the EU, the rule of law, sustainable development as a fundamental objective of the European Union, global stability, migration, energy and climate protection, and the fight against global insecurity, international crime and terrorism. Particular attention should be given to ways of better reaching out to citizens and addressing their expectations and needs.

9. The Group shall conduct its reflections within the framework set out in the Lisbon Treaty. It shall therefore not discuss institutional matters. Nor, in view of its long-term nature, should its analysis constitute a review of current policies or address the Union's next financial framework.

10. In its work, the Reflection Group will need to take into account likely developments within and outside Europe and examine in particular how the stability and prosperity of both the Union and of the wider region might best be served in the longer term.

11. The Group will be chaired by Mr Felipe Gonzalez Marquez, assisted by two Vice-Chairs, Ms Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Mr Jorma Ollila, and will include no more than 9 members selected from across the Union on the basis of merit. The Chairman and the Vice-Chairs are invited to submit a list of names to be considered by the European Council during the French Presidency.

12. The Group will consult as it deems appropriate and be responsible for the organisation of its own work.

13. The Group shall present its report to the European Council meeting of June 2010.

Project Europe 2030

Before the appointment, it was generally referred to as the Group of Wise Persons. In the report the Group added a few words to its name, in order to become discernible from past and future groups, so it became the Reflection Group on the Future of the EU 2030.

On 8 May 2010 the Felipe González, Chairman of Reflection Group, handed over the report to the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy:

Project Europe 2030 (for the English version; 46 pages)

The report is also available in Dutch, French, German and Spanish.

Creation of jobs and growth

The main message of the Project Europe 2030 report is:

Our top priority must remain creating jobs and growth.

The beginning of the report is written in the form of a letter from the Reflection Group to the European Council (pages 3 to 6).

The Reflection Group calls for more decisive political leadership from the intergovernmental bodies of the EU: the European Council and the Eurogroup (in coordination with the Commission and the European Parliament; page 6).

The strategic challenges mentioned in this summary are generally well known, but where the European Union has mainly tinkered on the edges, the need for concrete and decisive action is pronounced with gravity.

Among the challenges requiring solutions are:

• Avoiding protectionist temptations
• Medium and long-term reforms in addition to measures to overcome the current crisis
• Strengthening economic governance by correcting losses in competitiveness, reflected in balance of payments and current account deficits
• Reforming the functioning and supervision of financial institutions
• Achieving a highly competitive and sustainable social market economy in order to maintain social cohesion and fight against climate change
• Catching up in the race towards a knowledge economy
• Implementing a common energy policy
• Leading the fight against climate change
• Tackling the demographic challenge
• Strengthening the Single Market including services, the digital society and other new sectors driving growth and job creation
• Reforming the labour market
• Modernising corporate governance practices

The letter is rounded off with a few remarks on how the EU should become a citizens’ project.

At a first glance, the recommendations read like a damning report card on the lost decade of the Lisbon Strategy.

The European Communities and the EU could establish a museum dedicated to the reform reports which were politely received by the leaders and silently shunted aside to gather dust.

Are the prospects any better now?

Possibly. Since the beginning of this year there is one EU citizen with a vested interest to make the European Council deliver, its President Herman Van Rompuy.

Can he set the wheels in motion?

A haiku for your thoughts.

Ralf Grahn

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