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|EUROPA > The EU at a glance > Europe in 12 lessons > Lesson 8|
Towards a knowledge-based society
At the beginning of the 1990s, two great changes began transforming economies and daily life throughout the world, including Europe. One was the emergence of a globalised economy as economies everywhere became increasingly interdependent. The other was the technological revolution, including the Internet and new information and communication technologies.
I. The Lisbon process
By the year 2000, EU leaders were well aware that the European economy needed thorough modernisation in order to compete with the United States and other major world players. Meeting in Lisbon in March that year, the European Council set the EU a new and ambitious goal: to become, by 2010, ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’.
(b) The strategy
The European Council also agreed on a detailed strategy for achieving this goal. The ‘Lisbon strategy’ covers a whole range of areas, such as scientific research, education, vocational training, Internet access and online business. It also covers reform of Europe’s social security systems. These systems are one of Europe’s great assets, as they enable our societies to embrace necessary structural and social changes without excessive pain. However, they must be modernised so as to make them sustainable and so that their benefits can be enjoyed by future generations.
Every spring, the European Council meets to review progress in implementing the Lisbon strategy.
II. Closer focus on growth and jobs
The European Council in spring 2006 did not attempt to hide the fact that, six years after its launch, the results of the Lisbon process have been mixed. As a result, it decided to address the problem of continuing high unemployment in many EU countries and refocus the EU’s priorities on growth and jobs. If it is to make its economies more productive and increase social cohesion, Europe must continue to concentrate its efforts mainly on raising economic performance, innovation and improving its people’s skills.
On the initiative of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the EU member states have therefore decided:
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