Brussels, 04 March 2002
Speaking to the European Parliament on February, Commission President Romano Prodi outlined his expectations for the Barcelona Council on 14 and 15 May, which include agreements on areas such as investment in a knowledge-based society, the development of clean technology, biotechnology, and the integration of the candidate countries into the Lisbon process.
It is now very much up to the Council and the Parliament to put in place the necessary legislation to achieve the aims of the Lisbon strategy, said Mr Prodi, who said he was looking forward to Barcelona giving an impulse to such areas as EU reforms, job creation, strengthening cohesion, improving the environment, investment in a knowledge based society and economic reforms.
Mr Prodi would also like to see progress in such areas as opening up the energy market and reorganising the transport sector, with proper attention being paid to sustainable development and the need to develop clean technology.
Responding to Mr Prodi's presentation, MEPs emphasised that sustainable development, SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) and education should not be neglected.
Belgian MEP Monica Frassoni said that not enough consideration is being given to the idea of sustainable development, a view echoed by UK MEP Caroline Jackson, who declared herself surprised that the environment is not considered as important as social and economic issues. Ms Jackson proposed that an annual debate on sustainable development be organised.
German MEP Hans-Gert Poettering called for more help for SMEs through, for example, lower tax policies and a reduction in red tape. Responding to this, Spain's Finance Minister, Rodrigo Rato announced that concerns about SMEs would be addressed by a Commission proposal later this year.
Irish MEP Brian Crowley requested that more emphasis be placed on lifelong learning and educational opportunities for all, while UK MEP Mo O'Toole stressed that a successful knowledge-based economy can only be achieved through investment in education.
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