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Ahem, what happened to the Lisbon agenda?

Posted by Richard Thursday, January 20, 2005

Well you may ask. The Lisbon agenda was adopted at the Lisbon summit in 2000, its purpose being to make the European economy the most competitive and knowledge based by 2010.

We are half-way there and the mid-term review is due on February 2. Still, we are nowhere near that aim and are, indeed, slipping back in the world-wide competition. The new President of the Commission, Barroso, announced that reviving the Lisbon process (beware of that word) will be the main aim of his term.

Mr Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, that now holds the presidency of the EU, confirmed the importance of the Lisbon agenda, though he seems more interested in ensuring that he gets a bigger budget through for the period starting from 2007.

What do we find now? An internal and poorly publicized Commission paper drops the Lisbon targets and suggests instead that the economic goals should be simplified.

The paper sets out as top three priorities: creating more and better jobs, boosting knowledge and innovation, and ensuring the EU is an attractive location for business.

Simplified that may be but, frankly, comprehensive it is not. What does any of this mean and how can it be achieved through government or political diktats? Ah yes, our readers have, no doubt, guessed the answer: a co-ordinator of the national activity a "Mr Lisbon" or, perhaps, a "Ms Lisbon" will be appointed. I expect the Americans, the Indians and the Chinese are shaking in their shoes.

Written by Helen Szamuely