It might be worth noting that those plans unroll regardless of changes in the national parliaments, elections, the Toy Parliament or even the Commission itself. This is not something that is clearly understood in Britain by politicians, political hangers-on or the media.
We learn from EUObserver that Brussels (as the EU is known not so affectionately in common parlance) is to start public consultation for the next Ten Year Economic Plan.
Still grappling with the fallout from the global financial crisis, the EU hopes the plan will help tackle pressing issues such as rising unemployment and return the bloc to solid economic growth in the longer term.Whatever that last phrase may mean. I note that ComPres Barroso makes no reference to the number of jobs created in the private sector, possibly because the figure is too low to bother with.
The final date for submissions is 15 January 2010, after which the commission will then finalise a detailed proposal to be submitted to EU leaders at the European summit next March. "Europe reduced unemployment from 12 percent to 7 percent in the decade to 2008. We now need new sources of growth to replace the jobs lost in the crisis," said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in a statement.
In line with Mr Barroso's political guidelines for the next five years, the consultation paper points to the importance of greener and socially inclusive growth.
EUObserver also adds that this new Plan will replace the old Lisbon Agenda that was going to make the European economy the fastest growing and most advanced by 2010. Mostly it was going to do it by making countries tick boxes on various score sheets. Not surprisingly, this contributed nothing to actual economic growth or advanced technology.
Even now there is a lack of understanding what creates a growing economy.
While welcoming the general themes in the paper, Eurochambres – an association that represents European Chambers of Commerce in Brussels – stressed the need for improved monitoring of member state implementation.Who, one wonders, will be contributing to this discussion? Well, there will be the usual NGOs and lobby groups and that nebulous entity, the civil society, which consists of preferred organizations, often funded by the EU, using the money extracted from that patient milchcow, the taxpayer.
"Part of the blame lies with the 'Open Method of Co-ordination,' which leaves implementation to the goodwill of member states," said Arnaldo Abruzzini, Eurochambres Secretary General. "This method should be reviewed in the future 2020 strategy, and include more incentives for member states to deliver on their targets," he added.
The Open Method of Co-ordination is a monitoring system devised in the 1990s, under which member states "peer review" each other's progress in reaching targets. It is frequently cited as an important reason for the limited success of the Lisbon Strategy.
One way to improve implementation levels without the use of formal sanctions is by using the EU budget as a reward system, says Andre Sapir, a senior fellow with Brussels-based think-tank Bruegel.
"I think instead of sticks we need some carrots," he told EUobserver, outlining how member states that reach agreed targets could be rewarded under the EU budget.
"If you want to have a have better EU involvement, there needs to be a redirection of the EU budget towards the fulfillment of the plan's goals in general, and in some areas use some money to reward behaviour," he said.