Economic reform is a political issue

Richard Laming speaking at the European Social Forum, 2004

By Richard Laming

Published in EUobserver, 20 April 2004

The European Union has set itself the goal of becoming the mostcompetitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world. The Lisbon summit of March2000 set a target date of 2010. Anyone can see that, on current showing, that target will bemissed. It is worth asking why.

One argument is that vested interests in different European countries are still too strong. Theurgent need to loosen up our economic behaviour and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit just isnot sinking in. Gordon Brown, British finance minister, likes to say that the British model showshow it should be done. Other countries should copy Britain.

Another view is that the methods the EU is using to reach this goal are wrong. Unlike thecreation of the single market in the 1980s or the moves towards the euro in the 1990s, economicreform is being pursued outside the main institutional framework. This is the so -called openmethod of coordination. The idea is that European decisions can be taken and implemented bynational governments without a formal institutional framework. Instead of laws and decisions,there is best practice and benchmarking.

But benchmarking is not enough.

Read the whole article at 040420EUObserver

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