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Releasing Europe’s enormous untapped potential

“Release Europe’s enormous untapped potential” says President Barroso in presenting the European Commission’s strategic objectives for the next 5 years

Speaking to the European Parliament in Brussels today, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso set out his vision for the strategic objectives for the European Union until 2010. The aim is to deliver Prosperity, Solidarity and Security for all Europeans. For the first time, the European Commission proposes a joint programme of strategic objectives in partnership with the European Parliament and Council. The Commission believes it is important that the European institutions share the ownership of their priorities and work together to achieve the Union’s key objectives from the outset. The Commission also adopted a work programme for 2005 which includes a first series of concrete initiatives to turn the Strategic Objectives into action.

President Barroso said “We must release Europe’s enormous untapped potential. We must be clear about setting priorities to meet citizens’ expectations for Europe by 2010. I believe that we must embark on a process of transformation as bold and as courageous as the single market in 1985, the launch of the single currency, or the unprecedented enlargement of the European Union to 25 Member States. This will require real leadership. Both by European Institutions and by Governments. We must launch a period of European renewal. I believe that the challenges facing us are so wide and so complex that they can only be tackled in partnership. I believe we must build a dynamic Partnership for European Renewal: a Partnership for prosperity, solidarity and security in our Continent.”

Prosperity: The Commission aims to put Europe back on the path to long term prosperity. The top priority today is to restore sustainable dynamic growth and jobs in Europe in accordance with the Lisbon strategy. In the last decade, Europe’s growth and productivity has failed to match its major economic partners. Key elements of this programme will include:

Creating a business friendly environment: i.e. by ensuring that companies can operate with a stable macro-economic framework inside a genuinely Europe-wide regime, with equal rights to start businesses, a common approach on corporate governance and intellectual property, fair corporate taxation rules and trade-promoting customs systems.

Investing for prosperity: The Union is committed to investing 3% of GDP in research and development and to raising significantly investment in higher education – this is key to create a thriving knowledge economy. New policies must eliminate bottlenecks in transport, telecoms and energy networks.

Embracing change: Attract more people into the labour market, encourage job creation and move towards more and better jobs.

Solidarity: the objective is to sustain and reinforce Europe’s commitment to solidarity and social justice, to strengthen the cohesion of the enlarged Union and environmental protection. Key elements of this programme include using cohesion policies to promote competitiveness and growth, while reducing economic disparities. Solidarity must extend to future generations through continued EU leadership on environmental protection including climate change and sustainable management of natural resources. The protection of fundamental rights and fight against discrimination should be put at the forefront of European action with new initiatives on anti-discrimination and the establishment of a European Agency of Fundamental Rights.

Security and Freedom: Citizens legitimately expect threats to their health and safety to be countered also at European level. The Constitution will strengthen the ability of the Union to act. Implementation of the Hague Programme agreed in 2004 will be the key priority to ensuring a coordinated response to the risks faced by citizens in Europe Environmental and Health risks must be tackled by securing the Union’s ability to offer early warning and immediate response to particular crises situations, and by long-term prevention.

Europe as a world partner: New enlargements must be prepared actively, and the other Western Balkans must be brought closer to membership. Trade liberalisation will guarantee new outlets for exports and quality jobs on competitive, open and regulated markets. Negotiations must be pursued with vigour at all levels: principally in the World Trade Organisation, such as in the case of the Doha round, but also with key bilateral and regional partners (China, India, Brazil, Latin America, specific response for Africa). The Union should play a key role in first securing, and then implementing a Middle East Peace Settlement. The transatlantic relationship should be re-invigorated. A successful neighbourhood policy, and the creation of a more integrated space with the EU neighbours such as Russia and Ukraine will have high priority. The Millennium Development Goals for 2015 will guide the Development Policy of the Union.

The Commission hopes that agreement with the European Parliament and the Council on the proposed Strategic objectives can be reached before the end of the Luxembourg Presidency. This will provide a strong common platform for action by the European Institutions for the next 5 years.

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