Europe 2020 - A new 10-year strategy for the EU
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso presented a new 10-year plan for jobs and growth in the EU - “A European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” - on 03 March. Also with view to the financial crisis, the new strategy is designed to strengthen cooperation and economic growth and to catch up on the largely unfulfilled goals set by its ‘predecessor’, the so-called ‘Lisbon strategy’.
Bearing in mind the lagging behind of the Lisbon strategy, the Spanish EU Presidency has proposed to set binding targets for Europe 2020, an idea which is backed by MEPs. However, the heads of state expressed opposition to setting binding targets and just agreed on sending ‘warnings’ as highest enforcing measure.
The European Commission will monitor the progress made by member states by means of ‘country reports’ to be submitted on a yearly basis. It will issue recommendations on appropriate measure to take and the time frame for those measures.
Even though the majority of MEPs backed the strategy in principle on 10 March, concerns were voiced about the feasibility of the objectives. The chairman of the Industry Committee, Mr Herbert Reul (Germany), warned that another 10-year strategy might not be appropriate to generate (big) changes.
Towards a coordinated, expanding, green economy
The new strategy aims at coordinating policies in the EU to try to avoid divergences in growth and unemployment and prevent the risk of future financial crisis. Barroso said: “(…) divergences between member states have a direct impact on everyone else. We are more inter-dependent than ever before. The case is stronger than ever for the need for this increased coordination at the European level. Not only because of the demands coming from globalization and the need to keep European competitive position but also because of the recent crisis, we have experienced that it has direct impact on different member states.”
And he added: “We need the openness of the single market in more areas, more competition and better trade opportunities. Closing our eyes to the world will not make it go away.”
Targets for economic expansion have not yet been agreed but the broad aim is expected to be a doubling of Europe’s annual growth potential to 2 percent.
Climate objectives include a cut of harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent compared to 1990 levels and a rise to 20 percent of the share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption.
The EU Commission proposes that the European Council endorses in March the overall approach of the strategy and the EU headline targets, and approves in June the detailed parameters of the strategy, including the integrated guidelines and national targets.
The major obstacle will be getting all EU states to sign up to the policy, particularly the major economies such as Germany, France, Britain ant Italy.
A set of initiatives for boosting business and sound management of resources
Priorities lie in the fields of knowledge and innovation, a greener and more competitive economy, and high employment. The European Commission has defined, a.o., the following headline targets:
- 3 % of the EU’s GDP should be invested in R&D;
- The “20/20/20” climate/energy targets should be met;
- 75% of the population aged 20-64 should be employed.
The seven flagship initiatives to catalyse progress under each priority theme include:
“Resource efficient Europe” - The aim is to support the shift towards a resource efficient and low-carbon economy that is efficient in the way it uses all resources. The aim is to decouple economic growth from resource and energy use, reduce CO2 emissions, enhance competitiveness and promote greater energy security.
Related actions at EU level:
- mobilise EU financial instruments;
- enhance a framework for the use of market-based instruments;
- proposals to modernise and decarbonise the transport sector;
- address critical bottlenecks, in particular cross-border sections and inter modal nodes;
- complete the internal energy market & implement the strategic energy technologies plan;
- upgrade Europe’s networks towards a European supergrid;
- implement a revised Energy Efficiency Action Plan;
- structural and technological changes to move to a low carbon resource efficient and climate resilient economy by 2050;
Related actions at Member States level:
- phase out environmentally harmful subsidies
- deploy market-based instruments such as fiscal incentives;
- develop transport and energy infrastructures;
- coordinated implementation of infrastructure projects;
- urban dimension of transport;
- create incentives to reduce energy and resource use and improve energy efficiency of buildings.
“An industrial policy for the globalisation era” - Industry and especially SMEs have been hit hard by the economic crisis and all sectors are facing the challenges of globalisation and adjusting their production processes and products to a low-carbon economy. The impact of these challenges will differ from sector to sector, some sectors might have to "reinvent" themselves but for others these challenges will present new business opportunities. The Commission will work closely with stakeholders in different sectors (business, trade unions, academics, NGOs, consumer organisations) and will draw up a framework for a modern industrial policy, to support entrepreneurship, to guide and help industry to become fit to meet these challenges, to promote the competitiveness of Europe’s primary, manufacturing and service industries and help them seize the opportunities of globalisation and of the green economy. The framework will address all elements of the increasingly international value chain from access to raw materials to after-sales service.
Related actions at EU level:
- create optimised business environment (also for SMEs) and support the transition of manufacturing sectors to greater energy and resource efficiency;
- modernised pubic procurement, competition rules and standard setting;
- promote the restructuring of sectors in difficulty;
- promote technologies and production methods that reduce natural resource use & increase investment in EU’s existing natural assets;
- optimise transport and logistics networks;
- develop an effective space policy;
- enhance competitiveness of the tourism sector;
- optimise the European standards-setting system;
- promote Corporate Social Responsibility;
Related actions at Member States level:
- improve the business environment for SMEs;
- improve the conditions for enforcing intellectual property;
- reduce administrative burden on companies;
- work closely with stakeholders (such as trade unions, industry, NGOs) in different sectors to identify bottlenecks and draft long-term solutions.
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