In March 2005, the Lisbon strategy was re-launched as the Partnership for Growth and Employment and is now seen by many as the core ‘project’ of the Barroso Commission. The new approach has a number of innovations, notably the bringing together of previously fragmented policy-coordination mechanisms into a single National Reform Programme (NRP) for each member state, based on integrated guidelines agreed at the EU level. These programmes are complemented by a new Community Lisbon Programme (CLP) that embraces a range of Community policies.
This report presents an assessment of the first year of the new approach, focusing on the changes in economic governance and whether these can be expected to improve the shortcomings identified in the Kok report and elsewhere, as were evident in the first five years of the Lisbon strategy. The report offers an overview and a critique of the NRPs and the CLP, and discusses how they could be made more effective, drawing on both original research conducted in the course of the study and assessments carried out by the Commission and other bodies. Key weaknesses identified are that the strategy continues to lack visibility in political discourse, that it is too prone to changes in priorities and lacks either means of support or effective sanctions. Options for improving the strategy are then discussed and the report puts forward a series of recommendations for enhancements.