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On 23 March, the European Council adopted the conclusions relaunching the Lisbon Strategy. The President of the European Council, the Luxembourg Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, spoke at length about how the decisions of the European Council directly concern the everyday life of European citizens:
"It gives me great pleasure to see that there is a significant convergence of views on the Lisbon Strategy between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. The purpose of the Lisbon agenda, which we launched in March 2000, was to make the European economy the most competitive in the world. We realised that we were not equal to the ambitions we had set ourselves, that things did not turn out as well as they might have and that European citizens did not know what we were talking about when we referred to the Lisbon Strategy.
What do the citizens of Europe want? Competitiveness? Yes. Higher growth? Yes. Higher productivity? Yes. But these terms do not speak to their hearts. They do not understand how the everyday life of the people of Europe can be affected by these three concepts.
What Europeans really want, in fact, is work. They want to be able to set up their company in good conditions and find the finance for it and they want open markets and efficient communications and transport systems. They want to be able to reconcile their family life with their professional life and keep up with the new technologies and the world of the Internet. They want a good education for their children, public utility services, decent pensions and a healthy environment.
Those are the concerns of the citizens of Europe. And those are the true objectives of the Lisbon Strategy – precise objectives that we tend to forget when we talk about growth, competitiveness and productivity.
To relaunch the Lisbon Strategy, we need to reallocate it. The policy factors that gravitate around the concepts of growth, competitiveness and productivity are the areas in which Europe is today in a weaker position that those with whom she is in direct competition. The Council was right to follow the Commission on its reallocation proposals by mobilising all the national and EU resources available to us, and not forgetting that the Lisbon Strategy has three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. Growth and competitiveness are the tools we will use to ensure greater compliance with our ambitions of social cohesion and environment policy.
That is why the European Council has decided to base the relaunch of the Lisbon Strategy on three crucial pillars: making knowledge and innovation the real engines to drive lasting growth; making Europe more attractive for investment and employment and placing growth and employment at the service of social cohesion.
These three pillars cover ten priority areas of action: research, technologies and the industrial fabric, the information society, the environment, the internal market, the Doha Development Round and the regional agreements, reforms of the labour market and social protection, education and training, lifelong learning and social inclusion. These vital areas will become concrete reality for Europeans as a result of the implementation of the measures approved by the European Council.
On the Presidency website you can read another presentation on the Lisbon Strategy which will show you what the Lisbon Strategy means for young people, families, industry, for those looking for work, for those who do not want to lose touch with the reality of the workplace and who must, therefore, enter into a lifelong learning process – and finally for researchers.
The Presidency has worked hard on what we call governance. We think that the Member States need to reallocate the Lisbon Strategy once again. That is why we suggest that each government put in place a national programme of reforms over three years. These programmes of reform will be established after dialogue with the social partners in the Member States and consultation with all the major local and regional authorities. They will be submitted to the national Parliaments, which will be able to debate them if they so wish.
There will be a Lisbon Community programme to run in tandem with the national programmes of reforms. National reallocation must not be confused with de-Europeanisation of the Lisbon Process.There will be a strong European influence on all national policies and there will be a Community dimension as regards European legislative standards, so that national governments and European institutions move in the same direction".
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