Press releases

Comments on the Europe 2020 Strategy, unveiled today


03 March 2010

‘Europe 2020 focuses on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, with high level targets covering each of these dimension.  The Commission proposes to add targets on education, poverty reduction and climate change to the Lisbon Agenda targets of R&D expenditure (where the target is unchanged at 3%) and the employment rate (where a higher target of 75% is proposed).  But does the EU have the instruments to deliver? Looking at the targets, it looks like the tools to deliver are mostly at Member State level so it remains to be seen how far Member States will match action to aspiration this time around.’

‘It is unclear how the targets have been picked – both in terms of the indicators themselves and in terms of the levels. To make the strategy more credible and deliverable, the link between policies and targets should be more explicit, spelling out what specific policies will drive reaching the target level. This would then provide a yardstick which could be used to measure success or failure of policies, independent of other influences.’

‘One crucial issue missing from the high level targets is the sustainability of public finances, with the Stability and Growth Pact kept deliberately separate from Europe 2020. This means that Europe 2020 is not a comprehensive economic reform strategy and also makes it dependent on success in another policy field. Not only will the public finance situation determine much of the room for manoeuvre on the other targets, but integrating both policy fields would have also provided an opportunity to bind Europe 2020 into the wider economic governance mechanisms available at EU level.’

‘The Commission proposes seven flagship initiatives, intended to spearhead the drive to the smart, green and inclusive economy.  While some of these flagship initiatives contain a clear indication of  action needed at EU level – for example in creating a Digital Single Market – others are more aspirational, for example the European Platform Against Poverty. It is crucial that significant tools and instruments are committed to each initiative and this will determine how successful these flagships are in delivering the high level objectives.’

‘Aside from the flagship initiatives, which are a welcome focus on EU-level actions, the proposed governance mechanism is still predominantly ‘soft’ relying on benchmarking, monitoring and recommendations. Yes, governments can be admonished if they do not take the right actions but is there really a will by Member States to do this consistently, applied to all member states equally?’

‘The fundamental question is whether this is enough to deliver a higher growth rate for Europe. Europe’s growth potential has been hit and it needs to be lifted. Without higher growth, it will be near impossible to deal with the crisis in labour markets and public finances, and Europe will struggle to guarantee the viability of its economic and social model.’

‘Structural reform of public sectors, and especially public services, should have had a more prominent role. The impact of the public finance crisis coupled with demographic trends make this reform a critical success factor for Europe’s economic and social model and for long term sustainability.’

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