Brussels, 13 Apr 2005
'Last month EU leaders made clear that they are ready to do the necessary to put the Union on a higher growth path and to realise our social and environmental ambitions. Today we are getting down to work,' said Commission President José Manuel Barroso, as he unveiled a three-year integrated guidelines package for implementing the updated Lisbon agenda.
There are significantly fewer guidelines in what the Commission describes as a simpler and more focused system of EU economic governance, focused on the core objectives of more growth and jobs. The package sets out a comprehensive list of macroeconomic, microeconomic and employment policies, providing guidance for Member States to establish national reform programmes by autumn 2005.
Having drawn up their three-year reform programmes on the basis of the guidelines, Member States will be expected to detail their progress each autumn in a national Lisbon report. 'The Commission will analyse and summarise these reports in an EU Annual Progress Report in January each year,' reads a statement.
The macroeconomic measures proposed within the guidelines target a well-balanced economic expansion with the full realisation of the EU's current growth potential. Specifically, Member States are urged to avoid policies that reinforce strong demand in an economic upturn and reduce demand during a downturn, pursue a satisfactory pace of debt reduction, and to ensure that pension and health care systems are financially viable while remaining adequate and accessible.
On a microeconomic level, Member States are called upon to extend and deepen the internal market and create a more attractive business environment through timely transposition of internal market legislation, a reduction in state-aid, and by ensuring rigorous economic, social and environmental impact assessment of new regulation. To boost knowledge and innovation for growth, the Commission calls on EU nations to increase public expenditure on research and development (R&D), attract more students into scientific, technical and engineering disciplines, and commit to the setting up of joint European technology initiatives.
Finally, guidelines aimed at securing more and better jobs include recommendations to attract and retain more people in employment and modernise social protection systems, improve the adaptability of workers and enterprises, and increase investment in human capital through better education and skills.
The guidelines also underline the fact that Member Sates and the EU should take every opportunity to include regional and local governments, social partners and civil society in the implementation of the guidelines.
'We should face the challenges with a spirit of realistic optimism,' concluded Mr Barroso. 'The EU has a strong potential to develop further its competitive advantage. It is now crucial that actions are pursued with determination to exploit fully that potential.'
To see the integrated guidelines package, please consult the following web address: