Sweden admits Lisbon Agenda ‘failure’

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The European Union has failed in its effort to become the world’s most innovative region under the so-called Lisbon Agenda, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on 2 June.

“Even if progress has been made it must be said that the Lisbon Agenda, with only a year remaining before it is to be evaluated, has been a failure,” he wrote in a joint article with his finance minister, Anders Borg. The leader of the Nordic country, which is due to take over the revolving EU presidency on 1 July, said the strategy to make Europe the most dynamic and competitive region by 2010 should be rebooted. 

“We mean that a review and new start to EU’s Lisbon strategy is necessary. This must be initiated this autumn and remain a prioritised issue during the five-year period starting with the European Parliament elections on 7 June,” Reinfeldt said. 

In the signed article in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, the ministers said sustainable public finances should be made a cornerstone of a new strategy and that labour market policy needed to be reformulated. 

“A first step is to see that the unemployment problem is larger than the current official figures of close to 10 percent unemployment,” the ministers said. 

(EURACTIV with Reuters.)

Background

In March 2000, EU heads of state and government agreed on an ambitious goal: making the EU "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion". 

In particular, it was agreed that to achieve this goal, an overall strategy should be applied aimed at: 

  • Preparing the transition to a knowledge-based economy and society by better policies for the information society and R&D, as well as by stepping up the process of structural reform for competitiveness and innovation and by completing the internal market; 
  • modernising the European social model, investing in people and combating social exclusion; 
  • sustaining the healthy economic outlook and favourable growth prospects by applying an appropriate macro-economic policy mix. 

Although some progress was made on innovating Europe's economy, there is growing concern that the reform process is not proceeding quickly enough and that the ambitious targets cannot be reached. 

At their recent spring summit, EU leaders agreed to maintain the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs even during the hard times of the ongoing recession (EURACTIV 24/03/09). But concrete discussions over how the European Commission's flagship reform agenda should be adapted to the crisis were postponed to a later date. 

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