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Where Now For The Europe 2020 Strategy?”

Kowalsky, W. (2015) “Where Now For The Europe 2020 Strategy?”, Social Europe Journal, 18 March.


Does the Commission take unemployment as a serious challenge? What future for the Europe 2020 strategy? A few comments on European Commission: “Results of the public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth

This new note from the European Commission is clearly a step further down the road towards marginalising the Europe 2020 strategy in relation to the omnipresent European Semester and economic governance procedures. In its Executive Summary of the online consultation, the Commission presents the outcomes as follows: Europe 2020 is seen as “relevant”, its objectives and priorities as “meaningful”, the five headline targets as “key catalysts for jobs and growth”, most “flagship initiatives have served their purpose” and there is a need to improve the delivery “through enhanced ownership and involvement on the ground”. All in all, the summary gives the impression that the 755 respondents are totally happy with the 2020 strategy with its targets of 75% employment, 3% research etc.

The note starts with a quite biased interpretation of the Eurobarometer 81 on Europe 2020. In the Eurobarometer the findings are presented as follows:

45% of Europeans consider that the EU “is going in the right direction to exit the crisis and face new global challenges”, while 25% instead believe that it is going in the wrong direction. Nearly a quarter of Europeans (23%) spontaneously respond that the EU is going in neither the right nor the wrong direction, and 7% expressed no opinion.

In the wording of the Commission’s note the result of the opinion poll becomes the following:

Findings from the latest Eurobarometer survey on the Europe 2020 strategy indicate that the overall direction taken by the EU in response to the crisis is supported by EU citizens – nearly twice as many respondents consider that the EU is going in the right direction to exit the crisis and face its challenges as those who do not.

First of all, by keeping the question in very general terms (“face new global challenges”), Eurobarometer fails to relate it to the 2020 strategy. Despite this vague formulation, there is still no absolute majority supporting the Commission’s policy. Even the simplest calculations are exaggerated: 45% is a relative majority, but not “twice” 25% which would amount to 50%. It should not be overlooked that 23% of the respondents say it is going in neither the right nor the wrong direction and another 7% abstained.


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