The Guest Blog

Blogactiv is proud to publish this article about the Lisbon strategy by Maria João RODRIGUES, Professor, Institute of European Studies, Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB.

The preparation of post 2010 Lisbon strategy in the European Union should start with a clear identification of the challenges ahead. Some were already there but they are changing, and others are new:
– globalisation involves now competition but new opportunities coming from many other countries, in particular the BRICS
– the environmental concern is now much higher because of climate change
– the demographic trends, including ageing, birth rate, immigration and employment rate are not ensuring so far the long term sustainability of our protection systems
– the current financial and economic crisis will require important structural changes to enable a sound recovery
– the European integration, including in its political dimension, should be deepen to be consolidated in this new crisis environment
– enhanced international cooperation and strategic convergence between the key global players will be increasingly important to meet these challenges.

In face of these challenges, the strategic goal for a long term strategy should be to overcome this crisis and to pave the way for growth and jobs in the framework of sustainable development, involving a balance between the economic, social and environmental dimension. This will require as strategic priorities:
– a shift to a low-carbon economy;
– a stronger development of creative and knowledge-intensive economy, building on new forms of work and learning organization;
– a more enabling welfare system and an active immigration policy;
– a deepening of the single market;
– a deepening of the euro-zone, including coordination of macroeconomic policies, external representation and regulation of financial markets;
– a stronger interface with the EU external action to shape globalization and to promote international strategic convergence for sustainable development.

When defining the post 2010, it is important not to lose the acquis of the Lisbon strategy, which is very relevant, even if several of its targets were not reached:

– a large political consensus on the main strategic direction
– a European-wide process of coordination of structural reforms and innovations to cope with these challenges, involving European institutions, governments, parliaments, regions and civil society at several levels
– a gradual re-direction of several policies: employment, social protection, education, research, innovation, information society, single market, energy, regional and macro-economic policies.

Nevertheless, it will be decisive to go further in the key actions to be taken, in the governance structures to be used and in the structural reforms to be implemented.

Some of the key actions which should be taken are proposed below:
– developing of a new energy infrastructure which should be a low-carbon, intelligent and decentralised one;
– generalising the access to broadband and web 2.0 tools;
– creating European platforms to strengthen the coordination of research, education and innovation in new areas of investment and jobs creation;
– developing global research networks with a stable base in Europe;
– creating the Community patent
– turning universities into more entrepreneurial ones, also able to train for entrepreneurship;
– developing a European access to education and training, combining the European frameworks for qualification with new financial instruments;
– strengthening the scope of the Globalisation Fund;
– implementing a coordinated European immigration policy;
– completing the single market not only physical but soft infrastructures (standards, logistics, etc);
– strengthening the coordination of the budgetary policies to focus common priorities of public investment;
– modernising public administration to support economic and social innovation;
– developing strategic partnerships with other countries to open markets and develop the convergence to similar strategic priorities regarding sustainable development.

The governance structure also requires some fundamental improvements:
– at the top level, a single strategic framework, with the long term and key strategic orientations, overcoming the current disconnection between growth and jobs, social policy, energy and sustainable development;
– at the intermediate level, the Treaty-based broad economic and employment guidelines to be up-dated regularly when seriously needed;
– at the operational level the common objectives and key actions to be taken in each relevant policy according to these strategic priorities (and only those, in order to avoid the so called Christmas tree);
– a clearly identified tool box to implement this operational objectives at European and national level;
– a better use of the open method of coordination to enable learning, innovation and participation;
– a stronger ownership by each formation of the Council regarding its responsibilities of implementation;
– a more systematic communication by target groups in order to increase their participation;
– a stronger scrutiny by national parliaments.

If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, new relevant mechanisms will be available: a more coordinated external action, more qualified majority voting and co-decision with the European Parliament, a more focused General Affairs Council, new instruments of coordination for economic and social policies.

Beyond the institutional means, is also important to underline the need of new financial means:
– a Community budget more aligned with this strategy
national budgets also more aligned
– new European financial instruments (EIB, Eurobonds)

Last but not least, this agenda for structural reforms should be designed to pave the way for a sound and long term recovery from this crisis, which will require deep structural changes. Hence, the preparation post 2010 Lisbon strategy will inevitably intertwined with the discussion on key reforms regarding:
– financial regulation
– corporate governance
– ecosystems
– lifelong learning systems
– flexicurity
– generations pact
– effective public services
– innovation networks
– active citizenship
– multilevel governance


Europe, Globalization and the Lisbon Agenda, RODRIGUES, Maria João (ed.) in collaboration with I. Begg, J. Berghman, R. Boyer, B. Coriat, W. Drechsler, J. Goetschy, B.Å. Lundvall, P.C. Padoan, L. Soete, M. Telò and A. Török, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA, 2009.


Blogactiv was also able to interview Dr Rodrigues at the 2009 2009 European Business Summit.

If you would like to tell us your opinions, please use the comment box below.

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  1. As always, Prof. Rodrigues is spot on. She is not considered “the mother of the Lisbon Agenda” for no reason. The priorities she outlines are valuable benchmarks for the New Lisbon Agenda post-2010. I note in particular three important points that will be absolutely crucial for future success of the Lisbon Strategy: 1) link the EU budget with Lisbon Agenda priorities; a political priority that is not a budget priority is not a political priority, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is, 2) modernising public administrations; this is of incredible importance in economies in which the state accounts for 40-50% of GDP; it’s been sorely neglected by the current Lisbon Strategy and needs urgent attention going forward, 3) communications, communications, communications; the current Lisbon Agenda suffered acutely from the complete disconnect between those parts of the European Commission which work on economic and social renewal and those parts who have a mandate to communicate. This has to change going forward, otherwise I see no prospect for more success and civil society buy-in in the future. Aligning our verbal priorities with concrete political action is a prerequisite for more coherent, and ultimately more successful strategy going forward. And it could not have been said better than in this carefully analysed, superbly articulated article.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

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