Europe 2020: For Mercedes Bresso, the Member States have not learnt from the failure of the Lisbon strategy

The chair of the Committee of Regions (CoR) regrets that Member States have not sufficiently learned from the failure of the Lisbon Strategy, at the moment of the completion of national reform programs planned under the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The CoR president’s message is clear: for her, local and regional authorities were not involved in the preliminary stages or in any systematic way in preparing these national programmes. She adds that the first analysis of growth published by the European Commission has already highlighted the gap between the ambitions of the new strategy and the Member States’ initial conceptions put forward during the launch of the national reform programmes. Things have not changed since then, with ideas failing to live up to the strategy’s vision. Mercedes Bresso spoke these words at a territorial dialogue conference on Tuesday 22 February in Brussels.

In Europe local and regional authorities inject some EUR 2 trillion a year into regional economies. However, this growth lever is not coordinated with action by central government. The CoR president is critical of this situation: she reckons that the EU has established macroeconomic policy coordination to reduce public sector deficits and promote investment in growth sectors. However, partnerships between the relevant stakeholders, with joint objectives and mutual commitments, are an essential prerequisite if these policies are to succeed.

Mercedes Bresso suggests putting cooperation between Member State governments and their cities and regions on an official basis in order to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. She says she wants the Europe 2020 strategy to succeed, and points out that we are jointly responsible for making this happen. However, for her, we need to be given the resources to do this: national governments, regions, cities and other public authorities must commit themselves contractually to pursuing shared objectives. This is where the Territorial Pacts come in.

This idea already has the support of the European Parliament, whose representative Lambert Van Nistelrooij (EPP/NL) has even suggested making the strategy more than just voluntary. It was also welcomed by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso in his speech to the CoR December 2010 plenary session, as well as by Commissioner László Andor. The Committee of the Regions is also pleased to note that several of the proposals set out in the Commission’s communication on the EU budget review reflect a partnership-based approach.

The representatives of 100 000 European regions and cities now expect the Member States to follow suit and take the necessary steps at their own level. The Committee of the Regions will submit a proposal on this to the Spring Summit. With this in mind, Mercedes Bresso will meet the permanent representatives of the 27 Member States to the European Union on 8 March, followed by European Council president Herman Van Rompuy on 17 March.

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