By Paul Bongers
The year 2011 almost commences, but “2020 Starts now”. That is the message that the President of the European Commission José Manuél Barroso conveyed to the European Council on February 11 of this year. In 2020, Europe must have emerged stronger from the economic crisis and a 10-year strategy with “ambitious, but attainable” measures will ensure that. The last of the seven “EU flagship initiatives” – sets of goals in different policy areas – will be launched in early 2011 which will be the prelude to the “Europe 2020” strategy for “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”. With the first Annual Growth Survey in January 2011 as a kick-off for the first “European semester of policy coordination”, the European Union is well underway to 2020.
But what does this mean? The European Commission is going to coordinate the advancement of the flagship initiatives. This will be done throughout the year by “appropriate” – so it says in the report – monitoring by sectoral councils. Every year in mid-April member states have to report on policy implementation and the Commission will give case-by-case recommendations in June. During the second half of each year the member states will have to arrange budgets as to the guidance of the Commission. In January, through an Annual Growth Survey, the Commission will research if the member states have taken their guidance into account.
Barroso’s flagship initiatives may be “ambitious, but attainable”, but so is the coordination of the implementation process. Nonetheless, the annual reports and structural monitoring is to be encouraged. The flagship initiatives aside, maybe there is already a great victory to be obtained merely in enforcing implementation of European legislation by 2020.