What precise progress has been made across the EU in improving competitiveness? Which Member States are making best progress, and are the best-performing Member States being benchmarked for comparison purposes by other Member States? What role does the Commission have in promoting such benchmarking?
The emphasis since the 2005 mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs has been on establishing a partnership approach, combining action at national level (National Reform Programmes) with supporting measures at Community level (Community Lisbon programme).
The Commission is currently in the process of analysing the national progress reports submitted by Member States, outlining progress made since last year on their respective National Reform Programmes. This analysis will feed-into the Annual Lisbon Progress report, which the Commission foresees for adoption in December 2006. As it was the case in 2005, the Annual Progress Report will include a global assessment of EU progress towards the Lisbon objectives and targets, as well as individual country chapters analysing the situation in each Member State. This analysis takes account of progress made, inter alia, on a number of indicators relevant to competitiveness such as the share of R[amp]D(1)
and the employment rate (illustrating two key priorities of the Lisbon Strategy).
Concerning the promotion of benchmarking, the emphasis in the Lisbon process has moved from benchmarking in the sense of creating 'league tables' to assessing progress in relation to Member States' own starting points and conditions. Since 2005, the relaunched Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs has put priority also on the national ownership of the reform process. Besides, the Commission promotes the exchange of best policies between Member States, whereby they can learn from each others' experiences.
The Commission remains much committed to actively lead and support the relaunched Lisbon Strategy by fostering joint ownership with Member States and main stakeholders, both in its analysis (through key underpinning analytical reports such as the EU Economic Review 2006, or the Competitiveness Report 2006) and in its benchmarking exercise and policy recommendations through its Annual Progress Report 2006 (due for adoption on 12 December 2006).