Positive outlook for economic reform and ‘Lisbon II’

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Ian Begg, Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), assesses the progress of the Partnership for Growth and Jobs (PGJ, the name of the relaunched ‘Lisbon’ strategy) during the 2006-07 cycle.

In the report, based on a study done for the European Parliament, Begg addresses the state of the European economy today, the procedural aspects of the PGJ, the political dimension and the ‘ownership’ issue. He has assessed the national implementation reports and makes recommendations. 

The main conclusion of the research conducted by Begg is that real advances have been made in some respects and that the strategy has become more coherent and effective than in the five years after 2000. Nevertheless, Begg highlights several shortcomings, both regarding the actual situation in the Member-states as regards the governance of the process. He expresses concern about sufficient policy integration – “policy mix” – to reach sustainable economic reform, and although the significance of reform is well recognised, the engagement of national political actors remains low. 

Begg recommends three directions for further action. 

• First, he promotes abolishment of the split between economic guidelines and employment guidelines in order to achieve greater coherence. 

• Second, he encourages the debate about an explicit guideline for social inclusion and related social aspects. 

• Third, he emphasises the need of an additional guideline to address the shortcomings in public administration and public services. 

Begg’s final conclusion is that although the current economic growth improvement in the EU cannot be assigned to the Lisbon achievements up to now, it appears that the re-launched Lisbon strategy is more successful than ‘Lisbon 1’. 

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