25 January 2006
The European Commission has today published
its new Annual Progress Report on the Lisbon Strategy, the partnership
between the EU and Member States for growth and more and better
jobs. The Annual Progress Report is designed to reinforce momentum
and force the pace of delivery. There are three main elements in
the Progress Report. First, the Report provides an analysis of the
25 new National Reform Programmes submitted by Member States in
October 2005. Second, it identifies the strengths in different national
programmes with a view to promoting the exchange of good ideas.
Third, it highlights areas where there are shortcomings and proposes
concrete action at EU and national level to deal with them. Four
priority action areas are identified: investment in education, research
and innovation; freeing up SMEs; employment policies to get people
into work; and guaranteeing a secure and sustainable energy supply.
For each of these areas, the Commission’s Spring Report makes
clear proposals for European leaders to commit to when they meet
at the March Summit in Brussels and to implement by 2007 (see below).
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said:
“My overall message is clear, it is time to move up a gear.
There has been a wind of change moving though the corridors of Brussels
and national capitals since we re-launched the Lisbon Strategy last
year. There has been a step change in activity. We’ve come
a long way since last year and the right foundations are now in
place. The fact that there are 25 national reform programmes on
the table speaks volumes about a new level of national commitment.
Now the spotlight moves to delivery. Now Member States must get
in the driving seat and speed up reforms. 95 percent of what is
in these reports is common sense, Member States must make it common
practice. They must find the political will to match words with
deeds – it’s time to move up a gear."
“Our ambition is clear. We are aiming for top-class
universities, highly trained and educated workforces, strong social
security and pensions systems, the most competitive industries and
the cleanest environment. To those who say that it cannot be done
I say, a decade or so ago who would have thought that Ireland would
have become one the most prosperous countries of the European Union,
or that productivity in Poland would be higher than in South Korea?
We can and must go the extra mile for growth and jobs.”
- Investing in education and research
- Investment in higher education should by 2010 be stepped
up to 2% of GDP from the current 1.28%, including by removing
barriers to universities seeking complementary private funding.
- Already this March, every Member State should set a clear
target for overall R&D expenditure for 2010.
- A greater share of state aids (25%) and structural funding
should be spent on R&D.
- There should be a European Institute for Technology by the
end of 2007.
- To raise the marketable skills base of all citizens, the
teaching of mathematics and foreign languages should be given
greater priority in schools.
- Freeing up SME’s and unlocking business potential
- By 2007, Member States should each set up a “one-stop
shop” to assist future entrepreneurs and so that businesses
can fulfil all administrative requirements in one place.
- The average time for setting up a business should be cut
by half by the end of 2007 and then to one week or less.
- Entrepreneurship education should be provided as part of
the school curriculum for all pupils.
- Every Member State should set up a system to properly measure
administrative burdens. The Commission will launch a major
exercise of its own to identify and propose how to reduce
costs arising from EU rules or their implementation at national
- The Commission will remove the obligation to notify certain
categories of small state aids, which should help SMEs.
- Getting people into work
- To help increase employment rates and to finance pensions
and health care for an ageing population, Member States should
adopt a lifecycle approach to employment, with people of all
ages offered the support they need.
- Every young person who has left school or university should
be offered a job, apprenticeship or additional training within
six months of becoming unemployed by the end of 2007, and
within 100 days by 2010.
- There should be stronger efforts to meet national targets
for the provision of affordable high-quality childcare and
measures to achieve greater gender equality at work and to
promote a work-life balance.
- “Active ageing” should be implemented, with
more training for those over 45, financial incentives for
prolonging working lives and use of part-time work.
- The Commission will organise an extraordinary social summit
and present a report by the end of 2007 on the balance between
flexibility and employment security (“flexicurity”).
- Efficient, secure and sustainable energy
The Commission pledges in the Report to galvanise Europe
to meet the challenges of rising oil and gas prices and of cutting
pollution. It delivers a blunt message to EU leaders: energy is
a global issue that needs a European response. That means:
- Better coordination between Europe’s electricity grids
and gas pipeline systems, better regulation of energy markets
and more competition.
- More tax and other incentives to promote sustainable energy
use and boost research into energy efficiency, clean energy
- Europe “speaking with one voice” in negotiations
with the external suppliers who will supply more and more
of our energy.
- The Commission will publish a Green Paper with detailed
proposals in early spring 2006.
The National Reform Programmes (NRPs)
The Commission assesses in the Spring Report each
of the NRPs drawn up by Member States for the first time. The NRPs
share a common basis, the single set of 24 Integrated Policy Guidelines
agreed by the Council (see MEMO/05/123). Exploiting every Member
State’s knowledge, experience and good ideas so that each
can learn from the others is at the core of the partnership approach
and a key way to make a real difference on the ground. The Commission
will identify areas where the scope for mutual learning is greatest
and help Member States take up promising policy ideas from each
On the NRPs’ President Barroso said: “Inspiration
is close to home. All the Member States are bringing to the party
ideas that others can adapt and adopt and I congratulate them. But
progress is still uneven and the Commission will step up its efforts
to drive the process. This Report already shows we won’t be
a silent partner. We’ll give credit where it’s due and
constructive criticism where it can help.”
The Next Steps
The Commission’s Report will go to the Spring
European Council in March, where the Commission will urge heads
of state and government to make the commitments required.
The Commission will work with Member States to support
their efforts to implement their NRPs, to discuss how programmes
can be strengthened and to ensure that other EU instruments like
cohesion funding are used effectively to support Growth and Jobs.
Finally, the Commission will update the Community
Lisbon Programme (see IP/05/973). More than half of the EU level
measures envisaged have already been adopted by the Commission,
though they will only produce practical effects once also approved
by the European Parliament and the Council.
For further details on the Spring Report and on the
specific annexes on macro-economic, micro-economic and employment
issues see MEMO/06/23
For the full text of the Report – considerably streamlined
in comparison with previous years - see the Commission’s Growth
and Jobs web site at:
For a full set of National Reform Programmes, please