The Commission has adopted a Communication on the results of the public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. These results will pave the way for a review of the Europe 2020 strategy later this year, as announced in the 2015 Commission Work Programme. The Commission also published its proposals for integrated guidelines for economic and employment policies, to be adopted by the Council. Both sets of documents are important references for developing the EU's jobs and growth agenda.
What is Europe 2020?
The Europe 2020 strategy was launched in 2010 as the EU's integrated long-term strategy for jobs and growth. To achieve its objective of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for Europe, the strategy relies on five headline targets for the EU to achieve on employment, research and development, climate and energy, education, and the fight against poverty and social exclusion. The strategy is implemented and monitored as part of the European Semester of economic policy coordination. In addition, it has served as an overarching framework for a range of policies at EU and national level. In particular, the strategy has served as a guide for the design and programming of the European Structural and Investment Funds over 2014-2020.
What are the main findings of the public consultation?
The main outcomes are:
- Europe 2020 objectives and priorities remain meaningful in the light of current and future challenges and serve as a compass for policy action to promote jobs and growth at EU and national level.
- The five headline targets represent key catalysts for structuring the jobs and growth agenda and help to keep the strategy focused; they enable to compare performances and to track progress in key areas;
- Most of the flagship initiatives launched in 2010 have served their purpose, yet their visibility has remained weak;
- Better ownership and involvement on the ground would serve the strategy's delivery.
When did the public consultation take place and who participated?
The public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth was held between 5 May 2014 and 31 October 2014. The aim was to collect experience from stakeholders to draw the lessons from the first years of implementation of the strategy and to feed into the review.
In total, 755 contributions were received from 29 countries. Social partners, interest groups and non-governmental organisations are the most represented category of respondents, followed by Member States' governments and public authorities, individual citizens, think tanks, academia and foundations, and companies.
What are the next steps for the Europe 2020 strategy?
In line with the Commission's work programme for 2015, the Commission will present proposals for the review of the Europe 2020 strategy before the end of the year.
What are the integrated guidelines?
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that Member States should regard their economic policies and promoting employment as a matter of common concern and shall coordinate their action within the Council. In this regard, the Council is to adopt broad economic policy guidelines (Article 121) and employment guidelines (Article 148). The guidelines for employment and economic policies are presented as two distinct – but intrinsically interconnected – legal instruments. Together they form the Integrated Guidelines:
- A Council Recommendation on broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and of the Union – Part I of the integrated guidelines;
- A Council Decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States – Part II of the integrated guidelines.
What has changed?
The Broad Economic Policy Guidelines and Employment Guidelines were first adopted together in 2010, underpinning the Europe 2020 strategy.
The new set of 'integrated guidelines' updates this guidance in line with the new approach to economic policy making built on investment, structural reforms and fiscal responsibility, as set out in the Commission's 2015 Annual Growth Survey.
The Broad Economic Policy Guidelines cover priorities such as boosting investment, implementing structural reforms, removing key barriers to growth and jobs at Union level and improving the coordination, sustainability and growth-friendliness of public finances. The Employment Guidelines cover priorities such as job creation, labour and skills supply, better functioning of the labour markets, social protection and the fight against poverty. They seek to maximise the positive spill-over effects of coordinated action, an appropriate overall economic policy mix and a consistent contribution from European policies to the Europe 2020 strategy’s objectives.
What role do the integrated guidelines play in the European Semester?
The integrated guidelines support the achievement of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and the aims of the European Semester of economic policy coordination. Specifically, the Integrated Guidelines frame the scope and direction for Member States’ national programmes, expected by mid-April, and serve as reference the development for Country Specific Recommendations.
The integrated guidelines will be discussed in the coming months, notably by the Parliament, before being adopted by the Council.
For further information