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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 - Strasbourg
EU 2020 - Follow-up of the informal European Council of 11 February 2010

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2010 on EU 2020

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the informal European Council of 11 February 2010,

–   having regard to the public consultation on EU 2020 launched by the Commission, and its outcome (SEC(2010)0116),

–   having regard to the Commission's evaluation of the Lisbon Strategy (SEC(2010)0114),

–   having regard to the European Council document entitled ‘Seven steps to deliver on the European strategy for growth and jobs’,

–   having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the EU 2020 strategy should serve economic growth and create jobs, since the 4% drop in GDP, falling industrial production and a total of more than 23 million unemployed women and men represent a human and economic disaster,

B.   whereas the Lisbon Strategy underperformed owing to a weak governance structure, a lack of accountability, a highly complex objective with too many targets, over-ambitious goals and a lack of clarity, focus and transparency, and whereas it therefore welcomes the Commission's proposal for the EU 2020 strategy and the accompanying targets and framework,

General observations

1.  Believes that the EU 2020 strategy must provide an effective response to the economic and financial crisis, and lend new ambition and European coherence to the EU recovery process by mobilising and coordinating national and European instruments;

2.  Welcomes, given that too many European targets were not met under the previous Lisbon Strategy, the European Council's decision to set fewer targets, but to make them clearer, more realistic and more quantifiable;

A social market economy

3.  Believes that sustainable, full and high-quality employment, for both men and women, is an important goal to pursue in the EU, which can be achieved only if the EU institutions and the Member States implement the necessary reforms;

4.  Notes that unemployment is a core issue in current discussions in the context of the crisis; believes that, in order fully to address high and growing unemployment, the EU must implement an ambitious social agenda, including efforts to promote longer and healthier lives, to combat poverty and social exclusion, to help workers combine employment with care responsibilities, to reduce early school leaving, to foster lifelong learning and to fight discrimination and promote gender mainstreaming, gender equality and workers‘ rights and good working conditions; urges the Member States to tackle unemployment by creating more training opportunities and internships for young people, while protecting them against unfair employment practices;

5.  Stresses that, in order to address high and growing unemployment, the EU must implement an ambitious social agenda, and a strong gender equality strategy and integration policy;

6.  Believes that the EU needs to create inclusive and competitive labour markets through the restructuring of social security systems and the provision of greater flexibility for employers, combined with appropriate short-term unemployment benefits and support for re-employability;

7.  Calls on the EU to facilitate the free movement of all citizens, including workers; professionals; business people, researchers, students and retired people;

8.  Urges the EU to explore the possibility of European schemes designed to facilitate knowledge migration and prevent a European ‘brain drain’, promote excellence and develop a network of leading universities at international level; believes that creating the ‘fifth freedom’ of knowledge should contribute to this;

9.  Is disappointed that no mention was made of the agricultural sector in the original proposals for the EU 2020 strategy, despite agriculture's potential to make an active contribution to meeting the main challenges ahead; is convinced that, with the right policy framework and adequate budgetary resources, agriculture and forestry can play an important role in the overall European strategy designed to secure economic recovery and achieve climate targets, while at the same time contributing to EU and global food security, growth and job creation;

Strong European governance for a successful 2020 strategy

10.  Believes that the EU 2020 strategy should provide an ambitious and more coherent and target-based approach to the economic crisis, ensuring greater coherence between overlapping strategies, such as the Sustainable Development Strategy and the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), to help build a fair, sustainable and prosperous Europe;

11.  Takes the view that the Lisbon Strategy failed owing to a lack of commitment and lack of ownership by the Member States in relation to the implementation of agreed action plans, and the absence of effective incentives and binding instruments at EU level;

12.  Urges the European Council to abandon the ‘open coordination method’, based on the ‘exchange of best practices’ and ‘peer pressure’, in the field of economic policy; encourages the Commission to use all available provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, such as Articles 121, 122, 136, 172, 173 and 194, in order to coordinate the Member States‘ economic reforms and action plans;

13.  Emphasises that the Commission should draw up a precise scoreboard of obstacles and propose action on these key impediments, with a view to completing the internal market;

14.  Asks the Commission, while respecting the subsidiarity principle, to put forward new measures, such as regulations and directives, and possible sanctions for those Member States that do not implement the EU 2020 strategy and incentives for those that do;

15.  Recalls that both the Commission and the European Council have underlined Parliament's crucial role in the EU 2020 strategy, and should therefore respect its prerogatives by presenting annual policy recommendations to Parliament before the European Council takes a decision; urges the Council and the Commission to acknowledge Parliament's key role in implementing a 2020 strategy; takes the view that an interinstitutional agreement needs to be drawn up in order to set down and formalise a democratic, effective way forward, which should include a commitment by the Council not to agree on changes to the strategy in coming years without formally consulting Parliament first;

16.  Stresses the need for better cooperation with national parliaments and civil society; takes the view that involving more actors will increase the pressure on national administrations to deliver results;

17.  Takes the view that the Member States should, in close cooperation with the Commission, draft national action plans stipulating maximum and minimum values for certain macro-economic aspects of their economies;

18.  Notes that the implementation of the EU budget by the Commission and the Member States has been criticised by the European Court of Auditors; takes the view that, since the Member States manage 80% of the EU budget themselves, the Commission should put more pressure on them to take responsibility for spending these funds correctly, and consider financial penalties in the event that Member States refuse to cooperate;

19.  Believes that the Member States should indicate how they used EU funds to achieve the various EU 2020 objectives, and that EU funding should be conditional on results and compatibility with the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy;

Protecting the strength of the euro by stepping up financial oversight

20.  Stresses that budget consolidation and economic policies must be closely coordinated in order to increase growth, create jobs and ensure the future stability of the euro; takes the view that the Member States must comply with the criteria of the European Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), while striking a balance between the reduction of national deficits, investment and social needs;

21.  Believes that the failure by several Member States in the eurozone to comply with the SGP shows the need to strengthen economic coordination among countries in the EMU; believes that problems in the eurozone call for a European solution, and considers it unfortunate that there are no mechanisms to safeguard the euro's stability;

22.  Notes that speculative attacks on countries facing economic difficulties further deepen their economic problems and make it very expensive for them to borrow money;

23.  Stresses the need for a European supervisor to ensure effective oversight of micro- and macro-prudential supervision, thereby preventing future crises; stresses the need to establish an efficient European banking system capable of financing the real economy and making sure that Europe remains one of the world's leading financial centres and economies; underlines that oversight cannot remain a purely national matter, since markets are international and financial institutions operate across borders;

Freeing up the potential of the European internal market

24.  Notes that the single market contributes greatly to European prosperity, and welcomes the fact that Mario Monti has been assigned the task of proposing new and balanced ideas with a view to kick-starting the European common market; takes the view that, since the internal market is a key area of the EU 2020 strategy, the Council and Commission should come up with proposals for completing the internal market;

25.  Notes that some governments are practising economic protectionism, threatening to undo the work of 50 years of economic integration and solidarity;

26.  Reminds the Member States that they can use the enhanced cooperation method in areas where the negotiations have reached a deadlock;

27.  Takes the view that it is essential to complete the internal energy market in order to ensure economic growth, the integration of renewable energies and security of supply; is of the opinion that sustainable, low-carbon energy sources should account for a significant share of the EU's energy mix;

28.  Believes that European industry should take advantage of its leading role in the sustainable economy and green mobility technologies by exploiting its export potential; takes the view that, at the same time, this would reduce resource dependency and make it easier to comply with the necessary 20-20-20 climate change targets; stresses, however, that the EU economy needs sufficient high-tech raw materials in order to achieve this goal;

Promoting SMEs and jobs

29.  Believes that the Commission should have placed a greater emphasis on promoting and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), since most jobs are created in this sector and its innovation and technological progress play a crucial role in reinvigorating our economy; takes the view that more proposals to reduce red tape and promote innovative ideas are required;

30.  Underlines that the Small Business Act is a first step, but should be built on in a more ambitious manner; takes the view that priority should be given to SME-friendly legislation, encouraging entrepreneurship and improved access to finance;

31.  Underlines that a successful 2020 strategy should focus on promoting SMEs and jobs not only in the trade and service sectors, but also in industry and the agricultural sector, as these are vital for our future economy;

32.  Takes the view that the ageing of Europe's population requires lifelong learning policies and a more flexible retirement age (where employees opt for this), so as to keep a sufficient number of active people in the labour market and enhance their social inclusion; is of the opinion that the employment potential of older people and disabled workers is often neglected, and expects proposals aimed at enhancing their potential; urges, furthermore, the Commission to put forward a strategy to combat youth unemployment;

A budget reflecting smart, inclusive and sustainable growth as the priority for the 21st century

33.  Takes the view that the current budget does not sufficiently reflect the financial needs associated with tackling 21st-century challenges; urges the Commission to put forward an ambitious proposal to make the EU 2020 strategy a success;

34.  Urges the Commission to retain the target of spending 3% of GDP on R&D – as set out in the Lisbon Strategy – in the new strategy, for both the EU and national budgets; asks the Commission to put forward a proposal to make European research more efficient by streamlining existing structures, cutting red tape and creating a more research- and innovation-friendly investment climate in the public and private sector; takes the view that, in order to achieve a functioning knowledge triangle, it is essential to improve education and make innovation systems more structured and efficient, while at the same time supporting key enabling technologies; calls on the Member States to make better use of the potential synergy between cohesion policy funds and R&D funds;

35.  Believes that the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development should play a greater role in supporting infrastructure investment, green technologies, innovation and SMEs;

36.  Stresses that innovation starts with better education, and urges the Commission to encourage new partnerships between business, science and university research;

37.  Calls for a broad approach to future EU innovation policy; takes the view that key enabling technologies should receive adequate funding to make Europe a global leader in these areas;

38.  Considers that the transport sector is an important actor in achieving the sustainable growth foreseen in the 2020 strategy and that the sector contributes to a remarkable extent to the economic growth required for the implementation of EU 2020; considers that a mixture of different measures such as an energy mix, price formation measures and a realistic approach to the internalisation of external costs are important in this context, and that these measures should be accompanied by clearer and more realistic targets that should regularly be reviewed;

39.  Recalls that economic, social and territorial cohesion is a cornerstone of the European project, one which is currently being endangered by the effects of the economic crisis; takes the view that a 2020 strategy is an historic opportunity to maintain and strengthen European cohesion, mainly through a transparent, simplified and smart cohesion policy protected from renationalisation, and a sustainable long-term financial plan for the Trans-European Networks, energy and free and equitable access to ICT and broadband, so as to empower people – especially young people – to use modern communication technologies with ease while at the same time adopting a self-critical approach;

40.  Regards industry policy as very important in order to facilitate the transition to a sustainable economy; takes the view that the EU should promote innovation with a view to developing environmentally friendly modes of production and, where necessary, allow temporary compensation for greening European industry in the context of global markets;

41.  Believes that the EU should embark on major economic projects, such as a truly European energy grid, completion of the Galileo project and the widespread application of green technology, including systematic renovation of the EU's building stock, e-health and efforts to improve and update ICT infrastructure;

42.  Stresses that it regards this resolution as a first step, and will put forward a more detailed resolution on bottlenecks, problems and flagship projects in time for the June summit;

o   o

43.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council and the Commission.

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