19th May 2022

Crucial economic report arouses mixed reactions

  • More urgency is required to catch up economically with the US, said EU leaders on Friday (Photo: European Commission)

EU leaders have called for urgent action in the wake of a damning economic report although some have criticised its proposals.

The report - drafted by former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok - warned that the EU threatened to "seriously miss" its target of becoming the "most competitive economy in the world by 2010" and called for countries holding up progress to be "named and shamed".

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Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende praised the report as an "excellent contribution" and said, "we have to get going. We have to give it a sense of urgency ... we must act now to make up for lost time".

Incoming Commission President, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso also called for greater effort at implementing reform to increase competitiveness, saying, "We will need to refocus priorities, measure progress and assume greater responsibility for following them through".

Political suicide

But other leaders were less welcoming. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is said to have described the idea of "naming and shaming" as "political suicide".

And Austrian leader Wolfgang Schüssel was also dismissive of this aspect of the report saying that it would be better if the EU compared itself as a whole to countries like India, the US and China.

Some thought a name change might help. The President of the European Parliament, Spanish Socialist Josep Borrell criticised the fact that no one understood the name Lisbon Agenda - the name given to the EU's 2010 economic goals.

He suggested that citizens would understand the aim better if it went by the name of "the strategy for competitiveness, social cohesion and the environment".

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