Europe 2020 - More jobs in new EU strategy
The EU is facing a series of challenges that have been reinforced as a consequence of the financial and economic crisis. Over a hundred million EU citizens are outside the labour market, several million Europeans are poor, there are highly educated women who must choose between work and family, and the birth-rate is low. The list goes on. The EU's new growth and employment strategy (Europe 2020) is to get the EU countries' economies moving and create more jobs and higher growth.
Lisbon out, Europe 2020 in
The Lisbon Strategy expires this year. The strategy, which was drawn up around the turn of the millennium, aimed to make Europe the world's most competitive, dynamic and knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. The strategy succeeded in identifying quite a few deficiencies and problems preventing EU Member States from fully benefiting from EU cooperation. But several problems remain and new ones have appeared, not least in the light of the difficult economic and financial crisis that has hit the world economy hard. Besides, the Lisbon Strategy spanned too much. The large number of goals and guidelines made it complicated and unfocused. So this spring the European Commission launched a new strategy for growth and employment, Europe 2020, using the slogan 'smart, sustainable and inclusive growth'.
Sweden's Action Programme for Growth and Employment - follow-up report 2009
In the Swedish Action Programme for Growth and Employment 2008--2010 the Government presented its programme for growth and employment within the framework of the EU Lisbon Strategy. This communication is the Government's follow-up of the 2008--2010 action programme.
The follow-up is based on the 24 integrated guidelines of the strategy that cover economic and employment policy. The communication focuses mainly on current and future government measures to deal with the recession in the wake of the financial crisis. All the measures are described in the Budget Bill for 2010 (Government Bill 2009/10:1).
Five headline targets
The strategy was discussed by EU heads of state and government at a summit meeting in March 2010. This was when the decision was made to focus on five headline targets:
- 75 per cent of all men and women aged 20-64 are to be in work, for example through more young people, older workers and low-skilled workers working, as well as through better integration of immigrants;
- better conditions for research and development (R&D) through more public and private investments (3 per cent of GDP);
- reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent, increase the share of renewable energy sources and energy effectiveness by 20 per cent each;
- higher educational level through more people completing their schooling and more going on to study after upper secondary school; and
- reduce exclusion, above all by fighting poverty.
Sweden proactive on key issues
Even if Sweden is better equipped than many other Member States, the challenges facing the EU require joint solutions, so Sweden has pushed to get a new strategy in place.
Much of the preparation for the strategy took place during the Swedish Presidency. Sweden successfully pursued key issues for the strategy, such as the importance of having more people in work, the development of a green economy that uses resources effectively, sound public finances and the importance of the future internal market for growth. Other issues that Sweden has promoted are a future European research area and the importance of transparency and free trade for growth and employment. All these questions are key to increasing the EU's long-term growth potential, strengthening European global competitiveness and ensuring welfare in Europe.
Practical implementation of the strategy requires national targets to be set. By setting up national targets the responsibility of Member States for pushing through necessary reforms becomes clear. In Sweden's case the national targets must be considered and agreed on in the Riksdag. The EU Member States have different political and economic conditions, which must be taken into account in the national targets. The key point for the Swedish Government is that the targets must be ambitious but realistic. The targets must be well-grounded and funded so that they contribute to long-term sustainable growth and sound public finances.
Toolbox for implementing the strategy
In April 2010 the European Commission presented a 'toolbox' with ten guidelines to strengthen implementation of the strategy. The guidelines span various areas but can be roughly divided into economic guidelines and employment guidelines. On the basis of the guidelines each Member State must present a national reform programme with detailed reform proposals and measures to achieve the national targets.
Learn from each other
An important ingredient of Europe 2020 is follow-up and evaluation. Sweden wants the results achieved by the Member States to be made as public as possible. Transparency puts pressure on each country to actually live up to its commitments and makes it easier to exchange experience and best practice. There are areas and solutions where Sweden is far ahead and where our work can strengthen other Member States. For example, the Swedish childcare model has been pointed out as a way of increasing female employment. Conversely, the solutions of other countries or regions can be a source of inspiration for Sweden. For example, Denmark is far ahead in the use of wind power. The Netherlands has attracted attention for its work on simplifying laws and regulations for small and medium-sized enterprises and Finland for the high quality of its schools.
Heads of state and government have the last word
The guidelines were negotiated by EU finance ministers (ECOFIN) and labour market and social affairs ministers (EPSCO) on 7-8 June. The strategy was then adopted by the EU heads of state and government on 17 June. The meeting is to clarify the last details of the goals for education and poverty reduction.