Wednesday 11. December 2019
#137 - April 2011

 

Europe 2020 – All seven flagship initiatives now published

 

On 26 January 2011, the European Commission published “A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy” , the last of a total of seven flagship initiatives for the EU’s new ten-year strategy.

 

The aim of this article is to provide a brief overview of the Europe 2020 Strategy initiatives, meaning that it can describe only a selection of the measures planned within the individual initiatives.

 

The first initiative, published in May 2010, concerned the “Digital Agenda”. It aims to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits from a digital single market – which the Commission considers should be based on fast and ultra fast internet and interoperable applications. Low-level utilisation of the internet is often said to be due to lack of skills – such as digital and media literacy. For people with disabilities, for example, full accessibility and user-friendliness can be a problem. There is a need inter alia for concerted actions to ensure that new electronic content is also fully available for people with disabilities. The Commission also emphasises that the introduction of technologies for certain electronic health services in Europe could improve the quality of care, reduce medical costs and foster independent living, including in remote places. In addition, the Commission states that Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) technologies are to be reinforced. This EU Joint Programme with Member States aims to ensure that the digital society permits a more independent and dignified life for people who are frail or suffer from chronic conditions and for persons with disabilities. The declared targets for AAL include doubling the take-up of independent living arrangements for the elderly by 2015.

 

In mid-September 2010, this was followed by the “Youth on the Move” flagship initiative, which aims to support young people in coping with the challenges they face and equip them to successfully hold their own in the knowledge economy and society. As this initiative was already presented in detail in europeinfos (No. 130, September 2010), here we will only consider the Commission’s (constructive) description of the problems associated with temporary work contracts. These are offered to many entry-level employees and are not infrequently regarded as advantageous alternatives to fixed employment. According to the Commission, this leads to segmentation of the employment market. Many young people have a succession of fixed-term jobs, interspersed with periods of unemployment. As a result, they not only have fewer opportunities for stable, permanent employment, but also the continuity of their pension contributions is interrupted. According to the Commission, one possible solution might involve a tax incentive for enterprises that offer permanent employment or conversion to permanent employment.

 

The thinking behind the “Innovation Union” is that innovation is an overarching policy objective. All policy instruments, measures and funding are designed to contribute to innovation. Of particular interest in this connection is the new concept of European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs). The pilot project here is to be a partnership dealing with active and healthy ageing. The Commission has already carried out a Consultation in this regard.

 

In the flagship initiative “An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era”, the Commission sets out the key themes of its new industrial policy. These range from the challenges of energy-intensive industries and a new strategy on raw materials all the way to the development of a policy for the space industry. The Commission clearly gives particular attention to the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

 

An Agenda for new skills and jobs: A European contribution towards full employment” refers to the EU’s employment rate target of 75% for the 20–64 years age group by 2020. The Commission sets out four key priorities here: “better functioning labour markets”, “a more skilled workforce”, “better job quality and working conditions” and “stronger policies to promote job creation and demand for labour”. In 13 Key Actions, the Commission presents the EU’s contribution towards attainment of the objectives and targets. The implementation of flexicurity is to be further strengthened. A Tripartite Social Forum will also be organised, starting in 2011. Other Key Actions are intended to help increase the level of skills and the matching of skills. In this connection, the Commission calls for measures including better integration of migrants and announces for 2011 a new agenda for the integration of third-country nationals.

 

In the flagship initiative “The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion: A European framework for social and territorial cohesion”, the Commission notes that the fight against poverty and exclusion must be based on growth and employment as well as on modern and effective social protection. The platform is to be the EU’s contribution to addressing the challenges. In the area of social protection and access to essential services, the Commission plans for 2011 a White Paper on Pensions as well as the EIP on active and healthy ageing. In the area of education and youth policies, in addition to the proposal for a Council Recommendation on policies to combat early school leaving, the Commission envisages a Recommendation on child poverty for 2012. Migration and the integration of migrants are also addressed. Under social inclusion and antidiscrimination, measures announced by the Commission include an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies and appropriate follow-up to the European Disability Strategy 2010–2020.

 

Also of particular note in this connection is the statement that Europe 2020 represents a “new partnership” between European institutions, Member States, and all European, national, regional and local stakeholders. The Social Partners are also stated to have a critical role in helping ensure access to the labour market as, according to the Commission, “a job is the safest route out of poverty”. Furthermore, the Commission praises the know-how of NGOs in this area. It advocates strengthening existing partnerships at European level and promoting sustainable involvement at Member State level.

 

Regrettably, this section (entitled “Broadening and enhancing stakeholders’ involvement”) does not make any mention of the Churches, which also have considerable expertise in this field.

 

The Commission goes on to discuss the European model of a pluralistic and inclusive economy: The involvement of business should be encouraged in building more inclusive societies, including by promoting Corporate Social Responsibility. A Commission Working Paper lists all the key initiatives.

 

The recently published seventh flagship initiative “A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy” aims to be the starting point for a shift towards a resource-efficient and low-carbon economy. The Commission does not neglect the international context with regard to the global scope of important issues, including climate change and biodiversity.

 

Anna Echterhoff

 

translated from the original German

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