In March 2000, the Lisbon Strategy was launched to overcome a series of weaknesses in the European economy: long-term structural unemployment, a poor employment rate, and under-development of the service sector. In an often-quoted sentence, it has therefore assigned the EU “a new strategic goal for the next decade: to become the most competitive and most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth, with more and better and greater social cohesion”. The mid-term results published five years after the launch reveal that the focus on knowledge is right but that the sense of urgency is lacking, leaving Europe lagging behind the objectives set and behind the benchmark model of the Unites States. Moreover, Europe is also loosing ground vis-à-vis other competitors such as China and India, which have been growing at substantially higher rates. The mid-term report also declares that the social and environmental aspects of the Lisbon Agenda were no longer a priority and that instead the strategy would be revised to focus on the economic context only.
Hence, in order to keep the Lisbon strategy alive, drastic changes are necessitated, which this paper aims at presenting. Due to the word limit, only major recommendations from the literature review on the future steps to adopt are offered here. However, due to the complexity of the European situation, the focus is wider than on the sheer economic context.
[...] Finland and Sweden have results above expectations in many fields, whilst Germany and Denmark show R&D intensities comparable to the US. On the other hand, Greece, Poland and Slovakia are lagging behind in most areas. The problem of the EU is the lack of coordination between European and national authorities. Blanchard (2004) observes that the Council and European Parliament have great difficulties in adopting some key Lisbon measures, and the high number of cases against Member States for incorrect transposition or delays in implementation hampers the attainment of the Lisbon goals. [...]
[...] As for now, with labour mobility in the EU considerably lower than in the US, Europe continues to be less efficient and less competitive. Europe's ageing workforce is the key to all the problems that European labour markets face, especially given the fact that educated immigrants are not a realistic solution, as it is the case in the United States. Anna Turmann (2006) stresses that "without a raise in the employment rate, the problem of ageing will be insolvable", due namely to the increase in the share of retired persons and the pension burden. [...]
[...] This should be achieved not by a mere imitation of the US model, but thanks to a real European motivation and specific advantage. More importantly, the Lisbon strategy must attract the attention on the urgent need for structural reform, by ensuring the acceptance from Member States and European citizens of the need to improve linkages in the innovation system and to make painful changes in many areas of the EU's economic and regulatory environment. As underlined in the mid-term report, an effort must be made to streamline the Lisbon method in terms of prioritising objectives, methods of coordination and reporting. [...]
[...] The raison d'être of the OMC is that many of the Lisbon strategy objectives fall into areas of competences of the member states and thus the Community method cannot be applied (Denis p54). The drawback of the OMC is that the voluntary approach, the insufficient control and the non-obligatory nature of the Union objectives have led to disappointing results: soft law and negotiations are not always a substitute for hard law. Only of the 40 directives that had to be transposed by the end of 2004 were actually transposed to national legislation by Member States, and only 7 out of 40 were correctly implemented by all Member States. (Collignon, 2006). [...]
[...] Collignon, S., Dehousse, R., Gabolde, J., Jouen, M., Pochet, P., Salais, R., Sprenger, R-U., Zsolt de Sousa, H., (2006), Lisbon strategy and the open method of co-ordination - 12 recommendations for an effective multi-level strategy”, Notre Europe Think Tank, Policy Paper No Denis, C., Mc Morrow, K., Röger, W., Veugelers, R., (2005), Lisbon Strategy and the EU's structural productivity problem”, European Commission, Directorate-General for economic and financial affairs, economic paper. European Commission (2005) “Growth and Jobs working together for Europe's future A new start for the Lisbon Strategy”, Gordon, R. [...]
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