An update on the renewed Lisbon strategy on growth and jobs will be a key objective when Slovenia takes over the EU presidency from Portugal on 1 January 2008, according to Slovenian Minister Žiga Turk.

Slovenia will strive to initiate the next three-year cycle of the Lisbon strategy and adopt 'Integrated Guidelines' for economic reform until 2010 at the next EU Spring Council (13-14 March 2008), the government says. 

"The very key to success is consistent continuation of the process and implementation of national reform programmes," the Slovenian government points out on its special webpage. 

Although no major changes are expected under Slovenia's leadership, efforts will be made to increase research and development (R&D), support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and create flexible labour markets, Slovenia's EU Ambassador Igor Sencar outlined at an EPC conference in Brussels this November. 

In an interview in September, Sencar said that the presidency will be "a test of maturity" for his country. 

Speaking at the annual SME day in Brussels on 5 June, the Slovenian growth minister Žiga Turk emphasised that "finance is not the biggest problem in Europe. It's the lack of risk-taking that is the main problem". 

He added that education and promoting success stories was important and commented that less government interference would benefit SMEs. 

Besides further promoting SMEs and simplifying Europe's regulatory environment, business federations such Eurochambres are urging the presidency to push forward with the key European patent system dossier with the aim of finally reaching an agreement. The aim is to achieve a more efficient, workable and business-oriented patent system, according to a Eurochambres dossier on the Slovenian Presidency. 

Slovenia itself has reported remarkable progress on the implementation of the Lisbon strategy, according to the government's annual report published in October. Particular progress had been made in the areas of pension reform and measures favouring flexibility on the labour market, Minister Turk said in the latest issue of 'Most', the quarterly bulletin of the Slovenian Business & Research Association. In his words, the Slovenian state budget clearly reflected the development-oriented policy of his country. 

"Deficit reduction and a decreased share of public spending in the country's GDP on the one hand, and an increased budget share dedicated to research are clear indicators for this positive trend," Turk said. 

The Commission stated on 11 December in its strategic report on economic reform across Europe that the renewed Lisbon Strategy was working but further reforms were needed to succeed in a globalised age. 

As a means of better communicating the Lisbon Strategy to citizens, member states should extend the usage of high-speed internet to 30% of the overall EU population by 2010 as proposed by the Commission on 11 December, Turk wrote on Blogactiv.

"This is the kind of goal-setting the internet generation understands," Turk said.