June 30, 2009
This was first published as part of Growth and jobs: reshaping the EU’s ‘Lisbon Strategy’ by EurActiv.com on Tuesday 23rd June.
Besides the economic recession, EU officials have already identified a number of underlying challenges and opportunities that will shape the future Lisbon Agenda after 2010:
- Globalisation: The rapid emergence of new economic powers implies a fundamental shift in the balance of power between industrialised nations and the developing world, according to the Commission. Countries such as China are now starting to move from low-tech, cheap manufacturing and assembly to high-tech products. The EU should enhance its relations with such players, EU officials believe.
- The ICT revolution: Information and communication technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones are creating new opportunities for business. As the Internet knows no frontiers, SMEs in particular can now aspire to become global, the Commission believes.
- Demographic change: As the baby-boomer generation begins to retire, the strain on public finances will grow heavier, as fewer people will be at work to support them.
- Climate change and access to natural resources: Rising demand for natural resources from emerging economies could put some energy-intensive industries at risk and threaten vulnerable parts of the population. Food prices and the cost of raw materials are of particular concern.
According to Commission sources, a number of topics are likely to feature in the EU policy response. They include:
- Opening up markets to unlock business potential;
- Investing in knowledge (education, research and innovation ‘triangle’);
- Investments in energy infrastructure, and;
- Investing in human capital with skills training and a more flexible yet secure labour market (flexicurity).
Foreign policy and trade dimension
Among the new elements, the revised agenda is expected to give more emphasis to the foreign policy dimension. For example, co-operation on regulatory issues with other major economies such as the United States and China is seen as increasingly important to bring down non-tariff barriers and improve European companies’ access to world markets. Climate change and energy technologies are a good example of such possible areas of cooperation.
Attempts to shape globalisation rather than giving in to external pressure will also form an important part of the new strategy. Here, the revised strategy will build on the ‘Global Europe’ initiative tabled in 2006 by then EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, which set out an external ‘competitiveness agenda’ featuring the following elements:
- Completing the Doha round of WTO talks and bilateral free trade agreements;
- A greater focus on China, with a “comprehensive new strategy”;
- Co-operation on intellectual property rights with partners in Asia, Russia and Latin America;
- A market access strategy to focus on non-tariff barriers in key sectors as well as ensuring European companies get better access to public procurement markets abroad, and;
- Anti-dumping and other “trade defence instruments”.
On the international stage, the EU has already shown increasing leadership with the financial crisis, placing itself at the forefront of global initiatives to regulate financial markets and taking a leading role at the G20 summit in London.
But the bloc also showed its limits, as all the largest EU countries are jealous of keeping their seats in key international institutions such as the United Nations Security Council or the International Monetary Fund.
To read the full article, please click here.
EurActiv has also interviewed Gerard de Graaf, Head of Unit of the European Commission’s Lisbon Strategy’s “Strategic Objective Prosperity”.
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