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#17 The Lisbon Agenda: “a big failure”!

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The Serious Innovation Newsletter #17

The European Union adapted an innovation vision in the year 2000 that aimed to create :“the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth [..] by 2010″. At halftime we are not even close to that vision. At halftime the Kok report on the progress of the Lisbon Agenda claims that the result so far is a “disappointing delivery“. At halftime the man in charge, Romano Prodi, leaves the stage calling the project “a big failure“. So what now? Here is some of the findings in the Kok report and the solutions it suggests.
The Kok Report presented to the European Council on 4 November 2004 will serve as a basis for the mid-term review of the Lisbon agenda, which will be adopted by the Spring Council in March 2005. The long-awaited report takes a gloomy view on the progress made in the last four years, stating that the “disappointing delivery” is due to “an overloaded agenda, poor co-ordination and conflicting priorities”. It blames mainly the lack of political will by the member states. It paints a mixed picture as some progress was made: the employment rate rose from 62.5 per cent in 1999  to 64.3 per cent in 2003 and overall female employment rose considerably too. But it says that ‘net job creation’ stopped in 2001 and that the target of 70 per cent employment rate by 2010 will be difficult to reach. It also lacks clear innovation targets and the exiciting targets show bad results.

The Kok report then goes on to make policy recommendations in five areas:

Knowledge society

  • To attract and keep the best researchers: an action plan to reduce the administrative obstacles for moving to and within the EU for world class scientists and researchers and their dependants
  • To make R&D a top priority: establishment by the end of 2005 of a European Research Council
  • To promote innovation: agree before the 2005 Spring Summit on the Community Patent

Internal Market

  • Faster transposition of internal market legislation: Commission to produce full list of legislation awaiting transposition
  • Remove obstacles to free movement of services by the end 2005
  • Adopt remaining legislation of Financial Services Action Plan

Improve climate for entrepreneurs

  • Better lawmaking by continuing to carry out impact assessments of future legislation
  • Member states to reduce time, effort and costs for setting up a business by the end of 2005

Build an adaptable and inclusive labour market

  • Implement the recommendations of the European Employment Taskforce in 2003
  • National strategies for life-long learning by 2005
  • Member states to develop a comprehensive active ageing strategy by 2006

An environmentally sustainable future

  • Environment and competitiveness as win-win: promote development of eco-innovations and national road maps for the implementation of the EU’s Environmental Technology Action Plan
  • National action plans for ‘greening’ public procurement

The incoming president Barroso first and foremost, he agreed with the Kok report that better ownership is needed, thereby backing the ‘naming and shaming’ approach taken by the group. Further ideas of the future Commission president include a “Mr Lisbon” in each national capital, national action plans (as outlined in the Kok report) and a single Council formation to co-ordinate the implementation. In their conclusions, heads of state and government responded rather vaguely to the findings and suggestions of the Kok report, but they did give Barroso the mandate “to make the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy a key component of the Commission’s policy.”

So time to show some action when it comes to innovation and entreprenuership – it time to get out of the bureaucratic trenches and really put innovation and its role models on center stage. Not in a booklet, not in the form of a report, but on the city street, in the schools and in every mans labour. If you want to have welfare – innovation is the answer!

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