Commission and business urge progress in Barcelona of Lisbon targets

In an open letter to the European governments, European businesses have called for “real and credible progress against the Lisbon targets”. The Commission urged similar progress in its preparatory document for the Barcelona Summit.

The Barcelona European Council will focus on five specific areas:

  • interconnection and the opening-up of trans-European transport networks;
  • liberalisation and interconnection of electricity and gas markets;
  • integrating financial markets, to make Europe a real financial power;
  • developing a more flexible labour market capable of creating more jobs, and
  • improving the education and training of Europe’s students and workers and increasing their scope for mobility.

 

TheUnion of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE)and its national member federations wrote an open letter to Spanish Prime Minister Aznar with the following key messages:

  • Member States must deliver a supportive legislative framework that will reduce the administrative burden;
  • Europe needs more dynamic and flexible labour markets;
  • Europe needs integrated and interoperable networks that are open and competitive.
  • Europe needs a strong financial services market;
  • Completion of the single market remains the key goal;
  • Member States should urge the Commission to come forward with its action plan for better regulation, promised for July 2002.

TheEuropean Commissionis taking the same approach. It is urging the EU Member States to close the "delivery gap" on the promised structural and economic reforms and set new social objectives. In its contribution to the Barcelona summit, the Commission states that the EU Member States should focus their attention on boosting employment, reforming network industries and financial markets, and strengthening the EU's knowledge base. The Commission itself promised an "action plan" to remove barriers within EU labour markets by 2005. It also suggests a deadline of December 2002 for the adoption of measures concerning pension funds, financial conglomerates and prospectuses. As from next year it calls on Member States to set national targets showing how they will achieve the 70% employment goals.

In a commentary in the Financial Times,Mr Goran Persson, Prime Minister of Sweden, states "Modernising Europe is more urgent than ever, but the process has lost some of its pace. If the EU is serious about achieving full employment and a socially inclusive society, regaining momentum must be the overriding goal at Barcelona."

 

Two years ago in Lisbon, the EU's leaders decided to make the EU the "most dynamic, competitive and knowledge-based economy in the world". The Spanish Presidency has decided that the Barcelona summit will be an opportunity to give fresh impetus to Europe's agenda for reform.

 

The Barcelona summit takes place on 15-16 March.

 

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