So…how far is Lisbon from here?

Confusing isn’t it? This Lisbon Agenda stating that Europe will become the most competitive economy in the world in 2010. Just over a week ago all seemed to be going well and Lisbon was coming in sight. The EU was on track to meet growth and jobs targets:

After years of sluggish growth, Europe is on track to meet employment and growth targets, due to reforms of its labour markets, a study shows today. Allianz SE, one of Europe’s largest financial services providers, says that the EU-15 is 90% on track to meet the Lisbon Agenda goals by 2010 – up from 73% at the end of 2005.
In its latest growth and jobs monitor, Allianz SE said the performance of all EU-15 countries improved from last year. Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands performed well, while the UK and Germany were also credited with achieving high growth and employment. “Europe has finally turned the corner after years of disappointing performance,” said Michael Heise, chief economist of Allianz SE. “The monitor clearly indicates that the reform efforts of past years are starting to pay off.”

Another important aspect of the Lisbon Agenda is the upgrading of the knowledge and skills of the working population. This morning I read a report from the US based ‘Making Opportunity Affordable‘ project about the rates of college attainment (Hitting Home: Quality, Cost and Access Challenges Confronting Higher Education Today). According to its authors, Americas international competitors are showing signs of overtaking the US in educating their citizens. Although Canada, South Korea and Japan are the three countries identified as the top performing in college attainment, European countries are also overtaking or catching up with the US.
But yesterday it appeared that all this doesn’t seem to help. Allegedly, the EU is still trailing 22 years behind the US:

The EU is 22 years behind the US on economic growth according to a new study, with several other economic indicators showing further gaps despite Europe’s ambitious reform agenda to be praised by leaders at this week’s summit.
However, in a bid to start catching up with the US on key Lisbon indicators, Europe would have to perform better than the States, according to the study. “If income (GDP per capita) would grow in the US at 2 percent per year and in the EU at 3 percent per year, meaning a 1 percent higher growth of the EU, the EU would catch up with the US around 2045” the authors of the report concluded.

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