(January - June 2004) will use the mid-term review to:
- take stock of the strategy;
- refocus priorities;
- improve the governance and implementation of the strategy;
- implement a specific communication strategy by target groups.
The Presidency is committed to preserving the strategy of developing synergies between the economic, social and environmental pillars to achieve the aims of the Lisbon strategy. Moreover, it wants to confirm the target of 2010 as the date by which the Member States as a whole, in each area of the strategy, will have implemented the reforms in a self-sustaining manner demonstrating a notable change of trend.
Furthermore, the Presidency endorses the Kok Report's suggestion to create national action programmes to improve the governance of the Lisbon process, and it proposes to discuss a streamlining of the Open Coordination Method. The Presidency believes that the sound functioning of the Open Coordination Method will be judged when the national achievement of objectives as defined in Community action plans converge.
European industry and employers federation UNICE has pointed out that the EU's failure to make progress towards the Lisbon goals is mainly due to insufficient economic reform in Member States. In particular, industry believes that excessive costs and regulation stand in the way of getting Europe's competitiveness back on track, and UNICE has therefore called to "Free Gulliver" by cutting red tape for businesses. For industry, the focus must be on:
- better regulation with compulsory business assessment for new legislative proposals;
- reforms of social security systems;
- increased investment in R&D and innovation by Member States, universities and industry;
- reductions of company tax levels;
- better education on entrepreneurship;
- more flexible regulation of labour markets;
- implementation of internal market legislation.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) supports a discussion on growth and employment-friendly reforms provided that reforms "benefit workers, respect social dialogue and unlock the social dimension of Europe". However, ETUC has emphasised that structural reforms will not be enough to deliver on the Lisbon objectives: policies also have to ensure that growth occurs effectively. Trade unions reject the one-sided use of the Lisbon strategy to legitimise "neo-liberal policy approaches", saying that "the Lisbon Strategy must be implemented in a manner that is economically, socially and ecologically balanced."
Eurochambres, the association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry, maintains that Member States must repair credibility in the Lisbon process. In particular Eurochambres urges governments to
- introduce more immediate focus to the process at national and European levels;
- review the open method of co-ordination;
- strengthen the position of the Competitiveness Council.
UEAPME, European Crafts and SMEs employers association, has stressed the need for EU decision makers to make policy making more coherent and competitiveness-minded in order to create the right regulatory framework for Crafts, SMEs and business in general and revitalise the Lisbon Strategy. Saying that intrinsic weaknesses of the Open Method of Co-ordination has contributed to the delivery gap of the Lisbon reforms, UEAPME has called for stronger, more compelling instruments to be created.
The Green/EFA group in the European Parliament, WWF and other environmentalist groups have pointed out that the EU's Sustainable Development Strategy, which was adopted at the Gothenburg Council in June 2001, was made an integral part of the Lisbon Strategy. They call upon Member States and the Commission to recognise that economic growth, social cohesion, and environmental protection must go hand in hand.