Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth

The Europe 2020 strategy put forward by the Commission last March sets out a vision of Europe’s social market economy for the 21st century. It shows how the EU can come out stronger from the crisis and how it can be turned into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. To deliver rapid and lasting results, stronger economic governance will be required.

The European Commission launched a new 10-year economic strategy, called Europe 2020, to boost European economy and promote a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, based on a greater coordination of national and European economic policy. The initiative wants to overcome the weaknesses of the Lisbon strategy and paving the way for the creation on new jobs and a better quality of life. Europe 2020 sets out a vision of Europe’s social market economy for the 21st century and puts forward three mutually reinforcing priorities:

* Smart growth: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
* Sustainable growth: promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy;
* Inclusive growth: fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.

In order to reach these priorities, the Commission proposes five quantitative targets to fulfill by 2020:

1. 75 % of the population aged 20-64 should be employed;
2. 3% of the EU’s GDP should be invested in R&D;
3. the “20/20/20” climate/energy targets should be met (including an increase to 30% of emissions reduction if the conditions are right);
4. the share of early school leavers should be under 10% and at least 40% of the younger generation should have a tertiary degree;
5. 20 million less people should be at risk of poverty.

These targets are interrelated and critical to our overall success. To ensure that each Member State tailors the Europe 2020 strategy to its particular situation, the Commission proposes that EU goals are translated into national targets and trajectories. Integrated guidelines will be adopted at EU level to cover the scope of EU priorities and targets. Country-specific recommendations will be addressed to Member States. Policy warnings could be issued in case of inadequate response. Finally, Europe 2020 identifies seven flagship initiatives to boost innovation and growth and to catalyze progress under each priority theme:

1. “Innovation Union” to improve framework conditions and access to finance for research and innovation so as to ensure that innovative ideas can be turned into products and services that create growth and jobs.
2. “Youth on the move” to enhance the performance of education systems and to facilitate the entry of young people to the labour market.
3. “A digital agenda for Europe” to speed up the roll-out of high-speed internet and reap the benefits of a digital single market for households and firms.
4. “Resource efficient Europe” to help decouple economic growth from the use of resources, support the shift towards a low carbon economy, increase the use of renewable energy sources, modernise our transport sector and promote energy efficiency.
5. “An industrial policy for the globalisation era” to improve the business environment, notably for SMEs, and to support the development of a strong and sustainable industrial base able to compete globally.
6. “An agenda for new skills and jobs” to modernise labour markets and empower people by developing their of skills throughout the lifecycle with a view to increase labour participation and better match labour supply and demand, including through labour mobility.
7. “European platform against poverty” to ensure social and territorial cohesion such that the benefits of growth and jobs are widely shared and people experiencing poverty and social exclusion are enabled to live in dignity and take an active part in society.

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