As part of its efforts to portray the Lisbon Strategy as a way out of the current crisis, the European Economic and Social Commitee (EESC) debated the state of play of Lisbon at its 4/5 November Plenary Session. The discussion singled out priorities for the post-2010 agenda and several key opinions were debated and adopted.
A new, comprehensive post-2010 global strategy at European level is required in order to tackle the current challenges, including the economic and financial crisis and the resulting social problems, energy policy and climate change, education, innovation and development. EESC President, Mario Sepi said that the Committee, as the representative of civil society, plays a key role in this context, especially in connection with the preparation, implementation and assessment of the Lisbon reforms.
During the debate the EESC adopted a key opinion on “The Lisbon Strategy after 2010,” drafted by rapporteur Wolfgang Greif (Employees’ Group, Austria). Prepared in response to a request from the upcoming Spanish Council Presidency, the opinion endorses concrete policy recommendations on the current economic and financial crisis, growth and jobs, gender equality, and the importance of safeguarding social rights. The EESC believes that these proposals should be given priority when a new European Strategy for the post 2010 period is being drafted. The opinion, together with an Integrated Report drafted jointly by the EESC and national Economic and Social Councils, will be submitted to the March 2010 European Council.
Three other opinions linked to the post-2010 Lisbon Strategy agenda were also adopted. “Energy and climate change are at the heart of the renewed Lisbon Strategy,” is the key message of rapporteur Ulla Sirkeinen’s (Employers’ Group, Finland) opinion which calls for the renewed Lisbon Strategy to include an action plan for a low-carbon economy and a sustainable development policy. The opinion on “The external dimension of the renewed Lisbon Strategy,” by rapporteur Luca Jahier (Various Interests’ Group, Italy) highlights the need for Europe to pursue a new overarching external strategy by building a wide special development area, which could be called “EurAfrica”. The opinion on “Universities for Europe” by rapporteur Joost van Iersel (Employers’ Group, Netherlands), emphasizes the need to reform European universities, the main actors for sustainable socio-economic development in Europe.
Staffan Nilsson, President of the Lisbon Strategy Observatory and President of the EESC’s Various Interests’ Group underlined the need to “strengthen cooperation with national Economic and Social Councils, as well as with Member States.” Employees’ Group President George Dassis insisted on the absolute importance to “respect and protect fundamental social rights in this crucial phase of a renewed Lisbon Strategy”. Calleja Edwin (Employers’ Group, Malta) calling for a renewed Lisbon Strategy as a response to the economic crisis, said “we need a competitive Europe with high growth and plenty of jobs.”