The European heads of government have produced a strategy for the next ten years that is underwhelming to say the least. The development model on which it is built is lop-sided. The target it has set on poverty and social exclusion is a deliberate fudge and will have little or no impact.
The European Council provides a template for the socio-economic development of the EU for next ten years. It follows, more or less, the same pathway that the Lisbon Strategy travelled with major lack of success in the period 2000-2010.
The heads of government set a target to "lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion" by 2020. This was less than the original draft of the strategy had proposed. It was also weakened even more by leaving it up to each member state to decide which indicator to use to achieve the target ('at-risk-of poverty', 'material deprivation' or 'jobless household'). This is a bit like leaving each country to decide how it will measure GDP! It is simply not a credible approach and shows a pathetic lack of commitment to address the problems facing the EU’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
After the meeting, President of the Council Herman Van Rompuy said "We today finalised our new strategy for growth and jobs, the so-called "Europe 2020". It will set things in motion in the real economy." It will not achieve this outcome, despite the President’s claims, because the model it is following is lop-sided assuming that a narrow understanding of economic development must be given priority and that social services can follow on in due course. This overlooks one of the key insights of those who have looked seriously at the failures of the last decade.
Economic development is critically important but it will not be achieved without putting the necessary social services in place AT THE SAME TIME. Economic development and social development are two sides of the one coin. One cannot be achieved without the other. An economic strategy that fails to grasp the importance of education, for example, in producing an improved economy with more jobs is itself doomed to failure. Strategy 2020 leaves a great deal to be desired.
Full EU2020 Strategy can be downloaded below