From the Lisbon strategy to EU2020: illusion or progress for european economies?
The majority of papers published in the last decades on European Union policy strongly stress the importance of the so-called Lisbon Strategy approved in the year 2000. The same applies to studies and reports on the shift of the European countries towards modernisation and restructuring policy in recent years. This EU development strategy defines a new direction for the coordination of national policies. But why has it become so important? One of the reasons is the fact that many of the papers are based on the concept of “knowledge society” as the key driver for an increased competitiveness of all political and economic regions of Europe. In this context, the term “knowledge” means the inter-linkage of education (including training, qualification, skills) and innovation (including research, information and communication). The use of the concept represents an important shift in the European strategy: further development would not only be based on investment in material infrastructures, but also more on the immaterial ground. However, this Lisbon Strategy was criticised by many politicians and opinion-makers in the first years of this century because the European structures were not prepared for such a quick change. At the same time, the focus for investment moved away from the traditional support of industrial sectors (manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries, construction) towards the “new economy” sectors. The vision of a knowledge society remained appealing also in a changing international context: the Middle East wars (Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel-Palestine) and the fast growth of the Chinese economy. However, the shadows of new recessions have strongly questioned the options made by the European Council. New challenges have emerged with the need to redefine collective strategies in terms of European development as set by the Lisbon strategy. “Europe 2020” is one more attempt to define a new strategy. But at present no clear path has been identified. Whether the programme will bring about progress for the European economies, or is again an illusion, is not yet clear. This shows, however, that new paths and common strategies are still needed in Europe.
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