Call for coordinated action to achieve Lisbon goals

Pressmeddelande   •   Feb 06, 2007 09:57 CET

MEPs and national MPs gathered at the European Parliament on Monday for their third meeting on the Lisbon Strategy which aims to improve the performance of European economies. They heard calls for all levels of government to work together in heading for the ambitious targets set out in Lisbon in 2000.

EP President Hans-Gert Poettering opened the meeting. He argued that the Lisbon Strategy was a good example of how important it was to have a stronger democratic component in EU decision making. “To meet the goal of becoming the world’s most competitive knowledge based economy by 2010, we need to act on all levels: local, regional, national and European.” National parliaments, he said, had a crucial role, since the EU’s involvement was often limited to coordination and recommendations. The Member States were responsible for the effective implementation of reforms. “Exchanges between the European and national parliaments are crucial for the Lisbon Strategy,” he said.

The Speaker of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert – co-chair of the meeting with Mr Poettering – argued that progress so far had not been sufficient. He quoted former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel to the effect that Europe was an orchestra that needed to be more than a gathering of soloists. Developing the theme, Mr Lammert went on: “Regarding Lisbon, it is not unreasonable to say that we have only just agreed on the piece of music the orchestra is supposed to play, but we will need many more rehearsals before it is ready to be played in public!” He too stressed that neither individual Member States nor the EU institutions alone could meet the goals, there needed to be cooperation across the various levels. It was time, he said “to take a sober look at what still needs to be done in the time available.”

President Poettering also spoke of the need to reduce bureaucracy and red tape – which cost small and mediums sized businesses the equivalent of 3.5 per cent of EU GDP per year. He said the substance of the proposed EU constitution needed to be preserved if such issues were to be tackled effectively: “I understand why people sometimes criticise Brussels, but not the refusal to give us the means to do away with these shortcomings,” he said.

The two EP rapporteurs involved in developing the resolution to be put to the EP plenary on the Lisbon Strategy ahead of the Spring Council then outlined the key points of the draft version. For Stephen Hughes (PES, UK) there was a need to ensure social cohesion was given a greater emphasis. He said there should be a proper balance between the flexibility needed by businesses and the security needed by workers. The resolution would suggest a number of measure to improve employment prospects, including a reduced tax burden on employment and training for the most vulnerable and least qualified unemployed workers. Graf Alexander Lambsdorff (ALDE, DE) focused in particular on energy issues, saying the draft resolution would call for a series of timetables for action to increase the use of renewable energy (to reach 50 per cent by 2040), improve energy efficiency (by 20 per cent in 2020 and 60 to 80 per cent by 2050). Proper implementation of the internal market in energy, would, he said, put consumers, both individuals and businesses, at the heart of energy policy.

Energy policy was the topic of one of the meeting’s three working groups on Monday evening. The other two dealt with human capital issues, and innovation and the internal market. Tuesday’s concluding plenary session, on which a further press release will be published, will begin with the reports on conclusions of these groups.

Co-chair, EP President : Hans-Gert Poettering
Co-chair, Bundestag Speaker : Norbert Lammert
3rd Joint Parliamentary Meeting on the Lisbon Strategy

Ref.: 20070205IPR02709
Ralph Pine
Press Service
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