Having received, six weeks after the October 2005 deadline, 23 out of 25 national action plans for growth and jobs, the Commission has praised member states for their co-operation in implementing the Lisbon strategy.
The National action plans are a key element of the relaunch of the Lisbon strategy, which was announced at the 2005 Spring Council, when the Commission’s half-term review of the strategy showed that the EU was unlikely to meet the Lisbon targets by 2010 as foreseen. They cover government policies in the areas of, among others, research, development and innovation, reforming the business and entrepreneurship environments, employment policy and public finances, as well as education, skills and life-long learning. The plans cover the years 2005 to 2008.
Only Poland and Germany have still to present their national action plans. In both countries, elections and changes in the governments have brought about changes in how they are tackling the objective of creating jobs and growth.
While most countries have published the plans in one of the Commission’s working languages, some have not translated them into French, English or German, and a few others have not or not yet published them online.
“The new process is off to a very good start,” said Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen when addressing ministers at the 28-29 November 2005 Competitiveness Council meeting. “The co-operation between member states and the Commission is excellent and the new approach has strengthened the ownership of member states.”
In a conference organised by the European Policy Centre on 22 November 2005, Commission President José Manuel Barroso stressed the importance of ownership at national level of the Lisbon strategy. He indirectly blamed the Prodi Commission for parts of the relative failure of the Lisbon strategy, saying that “naming and shaming” as the main instrument to get member states to adopt the strategy did not work. Mr. Barroso said the national action plans were part of a new approach by the Commission he himself heads.
The Commission will publish a report on the evaluation of the national action plans in January 2006. It may result in amendments to the draft Integrated Guidelines published in April 2005. The Spring Council in March 2006 will then evaluate this report.