EcoFin backs Kok Report: Focus on growth and employment

During discussions on the Lisbon mid-term review in
Brussels on 16 November, ministers of economic and financial
affairs will agree that the Lisbon agenda “has become too broad”
and needs more focus.

EU economic and finance ministers are meeting in Brussels
on 16 November 2004. High on the agenda is a discussion of the
report of the High Level Group chaired by Wim Kok
on the Lisbon mid-term review. The ministers are set to agree
on the review’s recommendations on getting the Lisbon agenda
back on track by reviewing the priorities and
focusing it on higher growth and employment.

Ministers also agree that benchmarking national
performances can strengthen the accountability of member states as
regards implementing economic and social reforms. However, the
‘name and shame’ idea, proposed by the so called ‘Kok Report’,
received a mixed reaction from the 4 November 2004 European
Council. 

As usual, a meeting of eurozone ministers preceded the EcoFin 16
November council on the evening of 15 November. Ministers held a
discussion on the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact
and gave the Economic and Financial Committee a mandate to
work further on reviewing it (see EURACTIV 3 September 2004) .

During the meeting, eurozone ministers also discussed
Eurostat’s progress report on the revision of Greek
fiscal data for 1997-2003. Greece’s admission that it
entered the eurozone with false data on the country’s budget
deficit has raised a considerable amount of debate since
the scandal was revealed in September 2004 (see EURACTIV 28 September 2004). The
Commission says that there is no legal basis on which to exclude
Greece from the single currency. However, the new Commission does
have the power to decide to impose penalties on Greece
and take it to the European Court of Justice.

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