Documents considered by the Committee on 21 July 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


75 Europe 2020 Strategy

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Treasury, Business, Innovation and Skills and Work and Pensions Committees
Document detailsCommission Communication on the results of a consultation on the Europe 2020 Strategy
Legal base
Department

Document numbers

HM Treasury

(36754), 7273/15, COM(15) 100

Summary and Committee's conclusions

75.1 In March 2010 the European Council endorsed a "Europe 2020 Strategy" for the coming decade. It set out the challenges facing the EU over the coming decade and the need for "a strategy to turn the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion". It set out five headline targets, covering employment, research and development, climate and energy, education, social inclusion and poverty reduction, which the EU should aim to achieve by 2020. On 5 May 2014, the European Commission launched a public consultation for a midterm review of the Europe 2020 Strategy, with a deadline of 31 October 2014.

75.2 In this Communication the Commission reports the results of its public consultation on the Europe 2020 Strategy.

75.3 The Government says that no policy implications arise directly from the Communication, but tells us that the UK submitted a response in 2014 to the Commission on the review and describes the three principles which guided the response and the six recommendations the Government made.

75.4 Whilst clearing this document from scrutiny, we draw it to the attention of the House for the information it gives about how the review of the Europe 2020 Strategy is developing. We think it will be of particular interest to the Treasury, Business, Innovation and Skills and Work and Pensions Committees.

Full details of the documents: Commission Communication on the results of the public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth: (36754), 7273/15, COM(15) 100.

Background

75.5 In March 2010 the European Council endorsed a "Europe 2020 Strategy" for the coming decade. It set out the challenges facing the EU over the coming decade and the need for "a strategy to turn the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion" and proposed:

·  policy priorities that focused on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;

·  seven flagship initiatives to deliver on those policy priorities;

·  mobilising EU instruments and policies such as the single market to pursue the strategy's objectives; and

·  a governance structure that included five headline targets, covering employment, research and development, climate and energy, education, social inclusion and poverty reduction, that the EU should aim to achieve by 2020.

75.6 On May 5 2014, the European Commission launched a public consultation for a midterm review of the Europe 2020 Strategy, with a deadline of 31 October 2014.

The document

75.7 In this Communication the Commission reports the results of its public consultation on the Europe 2020 Strategy. It has an introduction, an executive summary, sections on context, key figures, and main outcomes, and a conclusion. In its introduction the Commission explains what the Europe 2020 Strategy is and says that the first years of the strategy coinciding with a financial and economic crisis had significant impact on progress towards its goals.

75.8 In relation to context, noting that in March 2014 it published a Communication taking stock of the strategy,[ 508] the Commission says that:

·  halfway to the 2020 deadline the delivery of jobs and growth objectives is mixed;

·  the legacy of the crisis is particularly acute in labour markets, with youth unemployment being a major concern;

·  it is important for Member States to prioritise growth-enhancing expenditure;

·  the crisis has also affected progress towards headline targets, with a negative impact on employment and poverty targets, which together with the research and development targets are not on course to be met;

·  the EU is on course to meet its targets on education, climate and energy;

·  the 2020 targets are political commitments, with targets not sufficiently ambitious at the national level to meet EU-level targets;

·  mixed progress on the 2020 targets can be attributed to the time lag with which structural reforms affect the economy;

·  growing divergences exist in the performance of key indicators across and within Member States, and have hampered progress; and

·  in light of this, one of the aims of the public consultation was to gain knowledge on delivery of the strategy.

75.9 In the key figures section the Commission says that:

·  775 respondents took part in the consultation;

·  41% of these were social partners, 20% governments and public authorities, 19% individual citizens, 14% academics and 6% companies;

·  a majority of participants covered all areas of the strategy in their replies;

·  EU and national institutions have also fed into the consultation; and

·  reflections on the review have generated strong interest and mobilised stakeholders involved in the implementation of the strategy.

75.10 As for outcomes and conclusions the Commission, noting that there were four main outcomes from the public consultation, says first that the scope and the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy are considered to be relevant, with 86% of respondents considering that the EU needs a strategy for jobs and growth. Secondly, it considers that the current five headlines targets are relevant and mutually reinforcing, with 87% considering them a useful tool. The Commission says there is strong support for keeping the current five targets, with 78% of respondents considering them sufficient, and with no clear hierarchy emerging from the consultation. Thirdly, the Communication notes the flagship initiatives have served their purpose, although, however, a significant number of respondents give a mixed assessment. Finally, the Commission considers that improving delivery and implementation would be desirable — 40% of respondents say the Europe 2020 Strategy has not made a difference, and the Commission argues that successful implementation has been affected by weaknesses in awareness, involvement and enforcement.

The Government's view

75.11 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 3 June 2015 the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke) introduces his remarks by saying that the Government notes this Commission summary of the results of the consultation and that no policy implications arise directly from the Communication. He then tells us that under the previous Government the UK submitted a response on 31 October 2014 to the Commission on the review.[ 509] He says that the response was guided by three principles:

·  that the focus of Europe 2020 Strategy should remain firmly on jobs and growth and enabling the private sector to produce this growth;

·  that the strategy should seek to balance actions by Member States with cost effective EU-level policy levers, while fully respecting the principles of subsidiarity and not incurring additional EU-level spending; and

·  that here should be a partnership between the Commission and Member States, with the Commission providing analysis and Member States taking ownership of reforms.

75.12 The Minister continues that the UK's response made six recommendations:

·  that the Europe 2020 Strategy should remain focused on growth and jobs, including by avoiding new or extended EU-level targets;

·  the strategy should pay greater attention to creating a favourable business environment and access to credit;

·  to increase transparency and ownership, the Commission should share its analysis and draft CSRs (adopted annually in the context of the European Semester);

·  the Commission should make greater use of pre-existing globally recognised indicators;

·  the structural reform elements of the European Semester should be moved to a biennial system, with half of Member States subject to the process each year; and

·  there should be a renewed and ambitious EU-level structural reform agenda, including regulatory reform, a stronger Single Market and far-reaching free trade agreements.

Previous Committee Reports

None.


508   (35852), 6713/14 + ADD 1: see 45th Report HC 83-xl (2013-14), chapter 9 (2 April 2014). Back

509   UK Government Response. Back


 
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