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European Movement International (EMI) welcomes the launching of the “Europe 2020 Strategy” by the European Commission.

Date

04 Mar 2010

Sections

EU Priorities 2020

EMI Seminar on Europe 2020 Strategy, 3 March 2010

This morning the EMI held a seminar on the Europe 2020 Strategy in the premises of the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU, gathering leading experts, social partners, the Presidents of the European political parties, as well as a wide range of civil society representatives.

Pat Cox, President of the European Movement International, stated that “in terms of employment, the economic crisis, through job losses, has driven us back two decades to the early 1990s. This is in a context of constraints on public finances unmatched since that time. One must add to this mix the sclerotic and dysfunctional state of the banking and financial sector and the consequential limited access to vital credit, especially for SMEs.” He went on to add that “the strength of a medium term perspective such as Europe 2020 is that it offers a road map for coherent policy making over time faced with challenges such as the ferocity of global competition and Europe’s ageing demographics.” However, he concluded that, “ this (could) not and must not take away from the fierce urgency of now”.

This idea was echoed by a number of contributions made throughout the Seminar.

Prof. Maria João Rodrigues, the leading expert on the Lisbon Strategy, described  the Europe 2020 as an “appealing agenda” but added that in respect of credibility it needed to be backed by the “necessary political and financial instruments”. 

Speaking on behalf of Business Europe, Philippe de Buck, Director General, noted “the sense of urgency” about the current economic situation, and insisted that the European Commission should be accountable for its period in office between now and 2014, even as it develops a mid-term strategy for 2020.

John Monks, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, expressed himself to be a “skeptic of Europe 2020”. Noting a Financial Times’ headline story - Hedge funds raise bets against Euro -, he remarked:  “this is today; what will Europe 2020 have to say about that?” 

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of the Party of European Socialists, suggested that a time had come to establish “a mutual guarantee system” to insure deficit states against the risk of sovereign default, which could be managed by the European Investment Bank. Referring to what he called “the lack of concrete proposals”, he wondered “if the European Commission is living in another world”.  

Speaking on behalf of the European Liberal Democrats, Annemie Neyts, President, described the Lisbon Agenda as “a dismal failure” and criticized the ineffectiveness of the “non-compulsory Open Method of Coordination”, adding that any new strategy needs “carrots and sticks”.   

Gunnar Hökmark, Co-Chairman of the European People’s Party Working Group on Economic and Social Policy, said that a time had come to move away from tired declaratory strategies like “best in the world” and recommended instead focusing on the best reforms available. He concluded by sharing his concerns that if it doesn’t get the economy right, “Europe risks losing influence in the World”. 

EMI President Pat Cox summed up saying that “President Barroso remarked to the Heads of State and Government, two weeks ago, that the time for bold initiatives is now. The feeling of today’s Seminar was that he is right; so, let us see some of those initiatives”.  

[ENDS]

For more information, please contact the secretariat: +32 (0)2 508 30 88, email: communication@europeanmovement.eu

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