Tuesday 19 October 2010

Europe 2020 strategy leadership and communication: State of the art or lying in state?

The seven flagship initiatives promised by the European Commission under the Europe 2020 (EU2020) strategy were Innovation Union, Youth on the move, A digital agenda for Europe, Resource efficient Europe, An industrial policy for the globalisation era, An agenda for new skills and jobs, and a European platform against poverty. See the blog post: Europe 2020 strategy: Barroso’s reform flotilla (flagship initiatives) (20 June 2010).

During October we have looked at some aspects of the Commission’s grand strategy. For context and your convenience, here they are:

EU: From Monti report to Single Market Act (2 October 2010) [There are other blog posts on the promised internal market reforms – a crucial element - if you are interested.]

EU: “European Semester” towards economic stability and growth? (3 October 2010)

Europe 2020 website: From deplorable to absolute disgrace (4 October 2010)

Europe 2020 Press pack: Better, but still shotgun approach (5 October 2010)

Europe 2020 strategy: Innovation Union (7 October 2010)

Europe 2020 web page(s)

Naturally, we have to make a mandatory stop at the central web page(s) for the Europe 2020 strategy to see if the Commission as a body has taken ownership of its make or break strategy.

Even if we are told that the one short web page was last updated 15 July 2010, a few discreet links have been inserted in the margin.

The 19 July 2010 press release IP/10/966 was there before: €6.4 billion for smart growth and jobs – Europe’s biggest ever investment in research and innovation

News links

Under News, a link to a press release has made its appearance: Youth on the Move – strengthening support to Europe’s young people (15 September 2010, IP/10/1124).

There is also a new link to the press release: The “Innovation Union” – turning ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress (6 October 2010, IP/10/1288).

In the ´plus column´ we can chalk up that the press releases are available in all the official languages, while the defining project for the Commission’s five year term (and the rest of the decade) offers the central web page only in English, French and German.

Document links

Under Documents, we find an unobtrusive link to the Communication from the Commission (although the pdf document did not open when I used the Google Chrome browser, but did when I switched to Internet Explorer):

Youth on the Move - An initiative to unleash the potential of young people to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union; 15 September 2010 COM(2010) 477 final (“print” version with pictures, 26 pages in all)

Under Documents, we also find an unpretentious link to another Communication from the Commission (opening with Google Chrome):

Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union; 6.10.2010 COM(2010) 546 final (no frills version, 44 pages)

For both flagship initiatives you find references to the accompanying SEC documents.

Digital Agenda and other flagship initiatives

The latest explicit links to the Digital Agenda, the flagship initiative first launched, seem to be from 19 May 2010.

There is nothing in express works words about the flagships soon to be launched, nor on activities in the member states (at central, regional or local level).

EU2020 Press pack

The Europe 2020 strategy Press pack has been enriched by a few disjointed press releases and speeches, valuable as such, but far from putting things into perspective as regards the EU2020 strategy as a whole.


There have been improvements in the margins – literally – through the links under News and Documents, but Barroso’s reform flotilla seems to lack an Admiral to set the course and Head Communicator to steer, by creating a sense of purpose internally and by conveying the message to the member states and EU citizens. There is, of course, nothing inviting discussion and interaction.

Individually, the Captains (Commissioners) of the different ships – “Digital”, “Youth” and “Innovation” – steer their own course. They show leadership and communication skills. They are pioneers in the use of social media among the Commission services. Their itineraries have to be traced one by one, however.

Nothing can, however, compensate for the lack of overall direction and comprehensive communication. If this continues, you will have me longing for the economic “dynamism” of the Brezhnev years in the late Soviet Union as a source of inspiration (source: Wikipedia).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. A small, but dynamic team of journalists on European affairs can be found on Twitter @Europa451. Fernando Navarro, Jean-S├ębastien Lefebvre, Julie Gonce and Francesca Barca write and collaborate to distribute articles on their European blog through websites in French, Spanish and Italian. The contents are similar, but not exact copies.

The Europa451 collective is doing a great job, with the Spanish blog the most active during the last seven days.

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