Brussels, 10 Mar 2005
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution by 514 in favour to 110 against, with 20 abstentions, confirming that the updated Lisbon strategy should be the EU's top priority for the next five years.
The resolution, drawn up by a special working group of MEPs at the request of the Conference of Presidents, confirms that sustainable growth and employment are Europe's most pressing goals and underpin social and environmental progress.
Outlining the Parliament's position on the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy ahead of the Spring EU Summit, the resolution states: '[G]rowth-oriented, sustainable macroeconomic conditions must be guaranteed if [...] economic, social and environmental objectives are to be achieved and [...] this is a prerequisite for the international competitiveness of Europe.'
The resolution specifically calls for action to create a friendly business environment for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), increase support for eco-friendly technologies, and devise a new information society initiative. According to MEPs, a satisfactory agreement on the REACH chemicals legislation would provide the perfect example of the revised Lisbon strategy in action, balancing economic, environmental, social and public health goals.
Strong emphasis is placed on research in the document, with a call for Member States to renew their commitment to meeting the three per cent target for research spending. It also argues in favour of doubling EU investment in research and development (R&D), as proposed in the Commission's draft financial perspectives for 2007-2013.
In addition, the Parliament demands that all future draft EU legislation is checked for consistency with the Lisbon objectives, and that 'fewer but better' indicators are used to measure progress. MEPs would like to see a strong partnership between the Parliament and the Commission on Lisbon, as well as between the EP and national parliaments.
Speaking during the debate that preceded adoption of the resolution, Martin Schulz MEP, leader of the Socialist Group, said that 'the EU will be judged over the next five years on to what extent the Lisbon goals have been reached.' He added that the period when peace-building was the ultimate goal of the EU had passed, and that now the EU's primary objective should be to build a competitive economic and social model.
Meanwhile, the Chair of the Group of European People's Parties, Hans-Gert Pöttering, called for more flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact, while continuing to adhere to the key principle of reducing public sector debt. 'The challenge now,' he concluded 'lies with Member States to implement the Lisbon strategy.'