The Community Lisbon Programme
In July 2005 the Commission proposed establishing a Community Lisbon Programme in response to the social, economic and environmental challenges facing the European Union. The programme contains three objectives and eight key actions.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 20 July 2005 – Common Actions for Growth and Employment: The Community Lisbon Programme [COM(2005) 330 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
At present, Europe needs to turn the challenges it is facing (ageing populations, increasing global competition, technological change, environmental pressures) into new opportunities.
Europe's economy needs to be modernised and lasting solutions proposed, against a background of sound macroeconomic policies to secure the European social model.
The European Council invited the Commission to present, as a counterpart to the national programmes, a “Community Lisbon Programme” covering all actions at Community level. The policy measures proposed under this programme fall under three main areas:
- supporting knowledge and innovation;
- making Europe a more attractive place to invest and work;
- creating more and better jobs.
The Commission proposes that these objectives be included within the Structural Fund and Cohesion Fund programmes. The new Rural Development Fund is a good example, as it focuses on investment in people, innovation, know-how, take-up of information technologies in rural areas and rural diversification.
Supporting knowledge and innovation
Investment needs to be higher (the target is 3% of gross domestic product) and more efficient (pooling of resources) in order to stimulate competitive European research. This is essentially the responsibility of the Member States.
The Commission also supports knowledge and innovation in Europe via financing instruments and effective regulation. For the period 2007-2013 there are two major financing instruments at Community level:
- support for innovative initiatives for the European economy. The programme proposes in particular strategic public/private partnerships in fields of major interest for competitiveness. It also helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to benefit from research;
- the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme will promote the use of ICTs and environmental technologies in businesses.
Other financial instruments are as follows:
- the Trans-European Network budget lines support the practical application of RTD knowledge programmes. This knowledge may be applied to industrial projects designed to reduce congestion in transport;
- the Environmental Technologies Action Plan is designed to promote the development and application of such technologies, which have significant economic and environmental potential. The Structural Funds and the EIB support the Action Plan.
The Agreement on the Community Patent remains a vital element in promoting a knowledge-driven, innovative economy. The Community will support efforts to maintain a strong industrial capacity where the Member States alone cannot successfully address research, regulatory and financing challenges at European level.
The Commission proposes simplifying the administrative framework for State aid and targeting this State aid towards knowledge and innovation, training, mobility and clustering. The new regulatory framework will facilitate the granting of State aid to SMEs and to young and innovative companies, not only through direct financial support, but also by facilitating access to risk capital funding. The new rules will ensure that State aid is granted only where spillovers for society are significant and competitive conditions are not distorted.
Making Europe a more attractive place to invest and work
To facilitate market access it is important to improve the regulatory environment and to complete the internal market.
Improving the quality of legislation can create the right incentives for business, cutting costs and removing obstacles to adaptation and innovation. Taking account of SMEs’ concerns, the Commission will continue its work on:
- assessing the impact of all new policy initiatives;
- thorough screening of proposals which have been pending for some time before the Council/Parliament;
- simplification of existing legislation by means of sectoral action plans.
The internal market for services must be made fully operational, while preserving the European social model. Given the current importance of the services sector in terms of job creation and added value in the EU, adoption of the Services Directive could lead to an increase in the employment rate and in the EU's gross domestic product.
The Commission also intends to:
- publish guidelines in order to promote effective and high-quality Services of General Economic Interest (following up on its White Paper on this subject);
- target the financial assistance available towards projects related to the development of the trans-European transport network;
- coordinate 45 “quick-start” cross-border projects for transport, energy and broadband networks, R&D and innovation, provided that the Member States embark upon a planning and financing process;
- try to achieve an agreement on a common corporate tax base for businesses operating in several Member States with different tax rules.
The full integration of financial markets may facilitate more efficient capital distribution. The rules are in place, but the barriers to market entry now need to be removed.
To ensure that markets are competitive both within and outside Europe, the Commission recently embarked upon its agenda for external competitiveness. This agenda comprises initiatives relating to market access, European policy towards China, public procurement, trade defence instruments, greater recognition of intellectual property rights and a new generation of bilateral trade relations. It highlights the European Union’s commitment to the World Trade Organisation.
Creating more and better jobs
The Commission supports Member States’ efforts in the areas of human capital, education and vocational training, for example by means of:
- the European Youth Pact;
- the ‘Education and Training 2010’ Programme;
- the Lifelong Learning Programme;
- the establishment of a European Institute of Technology;
- assisting Member States in the development of active ageing strategies.
The Commission will also complement the efforts of the Member States to achieve the objectives at the core of the Social Agenda. To this end, it calls on the European social partners to play a leading role.
To create a truly pan-European labour market, it is necessary to eliminate obstacles to mobility. The Commission will propose a European Qualifications Framework, creating the conditions for transparency and mutual trust.
The Commission will work towards a common framework for managing economic migration, comprising accelerated admission procedures for long-term stays of third-country researchers and the facilitation of short-stay visas.
Restructuring is an inevitable consequence of economic progress and market integration. However, it may have a destabilising effect on the people concerned. The Commission wants to establish a new fund to help the people and regions most adversely affected by the restructuring to cope with the changes. It will also follow up on its Communication on restructuring and employment.
The Community Lisbon Programme is the Community's contribution to the partnership for growth and employment, which was established by the renewed Lisbon strategy. The idea of the partnership is to create synergies between Community and national decision-making levels with a view to increased, stable growth and more and better jobs.
Like the Member States’ reform programmes, the Community Programme is thus in line with the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs, set out by the Council in June 2005. However, it concerns mainly measures with clear added value, complementing national measures.
A report (EN) (pdf ) on progress in implementing the Community Lisbon Programme was presented on 23 October 2006.
Every year the Commission carries out a review of the Lisbon Strategy in an annual activity report, which covers the implementation of the partnership for growth and employment at Community and national levels.