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The ESDN Quarterly Reports provide in-depth documentation of a selected topic on a quarterly basis. The current ESDN Quarterly Report is displayed below. For previous ESDN Quarterly Reports click here.
ESDN Quarterly Report March 2008
Governance of the Lisbon Process:
While about two thirds of the guidelines set macroeconomic and microeconomic objectives (such as “secure economic stability” or “facilitate all forms of innovation”), about one third focus on employment (such as “expand and improve investment in human capital”), and one guideline addresses “the sustainable use of resources and strengthen the synergies between environmental protection and growth” (listed under microeconomic guidelines). This focus on economic issues fuels tensions between the Lisbon Process and SD strategies to date.
In 2005, the OMC governance approach of the Lisbon Process was overhauled together with its objectives. The strategy is now based on a three-year cycle (2005-2008), and it requires Member States to
Based on the annual national reports, the Commission assesses all NRPs, gives recommendations and reports to the European Council (see, for example, European Commission, 2006c). At the end of the three-year cycle, the EU Lisbon programme (including the integrated guidelines) as well as the NRPs in the Member States have to be renewed.
So far, the EU Member States have published two and the European Commission three annual progress reports (the first one reviewed NRPs). The progress reports of the European Commission were published in January 2006 (“Time to Move up a Gear”), in December 2006 (“A year of delivery”), and in December 2007 (“Keeping up the pace of change”) (for a comprehensive documentation of all EU progress reports click here; for all Member State progress reports, click here).
At the Member State level, the Lisbon Process materialises in the form of so-called National Reform Programmes (NRPs) (European Environmental Bureau, 2005). According to the European Commission (European Commission, 2006c:9), NRPs are “the main tools to implement the new Lisbon Strategy, to translate the integrated policy guidelines into reform owned by the Member States and which Member States are responsible for delivering”. Until October 2005, all Member States have submitted their first NRP, outlining the policies, priorities and measures foreseen for the macro- and micro-economic dimensions as well as for employment issues. Their renewal is scheduled for 2009.
In its first progress report from January 2006, the European Commission (2006c) provided a detailed assessment of the NRPs of all 25 Member States. Each NRP was assessed with regard to general aspects and the three policy areas (macroeconomic, micro-economic and employment policies). Additionally, statistical information is provided for the 14 structural indicators. The following five main conclusions have been drawn by the European Commission (2006c:13-14):
In 2006, the European Council argued in its Presidency Conclusions (para. 15) that now, as all NRPs are in place, it would be essential to ensure their “effective, timely and comprehensive implementation, and if necessary, strengthening of measures agreed in the NRPs”.
The following parts of this section provide some empirical details about NRPs and the indicators used in the Lisbon context. Some of the following findings confirm the assessment of the European Commission summarised above, others (in particular those on indicators used) complement it.
The following parts of the report are based on a study that was carried out between January and June 2007 by the Institute of Forest, Environmental and Natural Resource Policy at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), together with RIMAS (the Research Institute for Managing Sustainability that operates the ESDN Office) at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. The study was commissioned by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Lot 2 of Eurostat’s tender No 2006/S 148-159080 on the “Improvement of the quality of the quality of the Structural and Sustainable development indicators”). The complete study (Rametsteiner et al., 2007) can be downloaded here.
The objectives of the study were to
As mentioned already in the ESDN Quarterly Report December 2007, the analysis of objectives and indicators in Lisbon and SD strategies at the EU and national levels was implemented trough three tasks:
The empirical findings summarised here (and the following methodological remarks) focus on the analysis of objectives and indicators used in Lisbon National Reform Programmes (task 1). The analysis and comparison of SD objectives and indicators (task 2) is summarised in the ESDN Quarterly Report December 2007 .
A European comparison of indicators used in the Lisbon Process requires a common point of reference that helps to highlight similarities and differences across Member States. Here, the EU Structural Indicators (SI) (as listed in the EU Structural Indicators database http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/structuralindicators , including the 4 new structural indicators added after the 2006 review as specified in SEC(2006) 1673) were used as the common point of reference. Similar to the approach described in the ESDN Quarterly Report December 2007, objectives and indicators identified in NRPs and corresponding progress reports were entered into a database and categorized by using a hierarchical scheme. Additionally, the indicators (not the objectives) were linked to the EU Structural Indicators used in the context of the Lisbon Process.
The study covered a total of 25 EU Member States (the EU-25 prior to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania). All 25 countries had already elaborated an NRP as well as a first progress report. As an exception, Hungary and Sweden did not publish a progress report but a revised version of their NRP.
As in the ESDN Quarterly Report December 2007, two limitations have to be kept in mind when interpreting the findings of the study. First, a number of countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Poland and Portugal) did not explicitly state a set of indicators in their NRPs. However, virtually all countries referred to several single indicators that could be derived from tables, graphs or the text. However, in order to make the results comparable, these ‘implicit indicators’ were, not included in the analysis. As regards the NRP progress reports, all of them included explicit lists of indicators that were in addition included in the study.
Second, a majority of the analysed NRPs lack a detailed description of the kind of revisions, monitoring methods and reporting cycles that are foreseen. This may be due to the fact that a common approach for all EU MS has been set up, known as the Open Method of Coordination (OMC, for details click here). The Lisbon OMC foresees that NRPs are developed for a period of three years and are accompanied by annual progress reports. The latter do not only report about progress achieved in the implementation of the NRP objectives but also revise goals and introduce new actions and measures. However, due to methodological considerations, we restricted the scope of the analysis to objectives and actions specified in the original NRP documents.
This section characterises National Reform Programmes (NRPs) in terms of basic characteristics (types), their focus, structure and objectives. The one-year follow-up Communication of the European Commission (2006) to the Spring European Council entitled “A year of delivery” lines out that “in addition to the fact that Member States had different points of departure, there is considerable variation in the pace, intensity and commitment towards reforms across Member States.” The analysed National Reform Programmes reflect this variation in terms of several features such as
The first three points are discussed below; the use of indicators is discussed in the next sub-section.
Table 1 provides an overview of the hierarchy and total number of objectives stated in NRPs. While a majority of 15 NRPs show a hierarchical structure of main objectives broken down into sub-objectives and actions, the remaining 10 documents do not specify how the main objectives ought to be implemented. Instead, these so-called ‘mixed’ approaches specify sub-objectives and actions in separate chapters or parts of the NRPs without reference to the main objectives outlined before. The number of objectives ranges from 78 (Malta) to 307 (Sweden), with an average of 185. However, the number of objectives may have changed since 2005 because many of the progress reports state additional objectives.
Regarding the importance of the integrated guidelines, Table 1 shows in detail that 32% of the countries (including Cyprus, Ireland and Luxembourg) prepared their NRPs by strictly following them(i.e. showing a strong orientation towards the integrated guidelines). About 28% of the EU-25 (including Austria, Estonia and Slovakia) formulated their NRP objectives with some reference to the integrated guidelines (medium orientation); and 24% (including Belgium, Italy and the UK) did not explicitly follow the guidelines but structured their NRPs according to the three main areas ‘macroeconomic guidelines’, ‘microeconomic guidelines’ and ‘employment guidelines’ (weak orientation). 16% of the countries (including Denmark and France) did not make explicit references to the guidelines.
Table 1: Structure, scope and coherence of European NRPs
|Country||NRP structure||Number of objectives and actions/measures*||Orientation towards Integrated guidelines (IGs)|
|Austria||mixed; 7 strategic key areas; actions described in a separate section of the NRP||122 (7/22/93)||medium; actions formulated along IGs, linkage between the 7 key areas and IGs added in progress report|
|Belgium||mixed; 6 main objectives; further objectives and actions described in a separate part of the NRP||167 (19/51/97)||weak; NRP structured along the 3 main policy areas of the IGs**|
|Cyprus||mixed; 9 ‘key challenges’ plus further 13 main objectives in separate chapters||277 /22/55/200)||strong; objectives clearly follow the IGs|
|Czech Republic||hierarchical; 8 main objectives||155 (8/46/101)||medium; NRP structured according to the main policy areas of the IGs**|
|Denmark||hierarchical; 6 main objectives||145 (6/26/113)||no reference to IGs|
|Estonia||clearly hierarchical; 9 main objectives||148 (9/26/113)||medium; linkage between objectives and IGs specified in the NRP annex|
|Finland||hierarchical; 3 main objectives||94 (3/12/79)||strong; objectives and sub-objectives structured along IGs|
|France||mixed; 4 main objectives plus 3 further objectives in separate chapters||25 (7/18/0)***||no reference to IGs|
|Germany||hierarchical; 6 main objectives||31 (6/25/0)***||medium; some of the objectives and actions refer to the IGs|
|Greece||mixed; 4 main objectives plus further 8 objectives specified in separate chapters||225 (12/34/179)||no reference to IGs|
|Hungary||mixed; 11 main objectives, actions/measures specified in separate chapters||40 (11/29/0)***||strong; sub-objectives clearly structured along IGs|
|Ireland||mixed; 12 main objectives, actions/measures specified in separate chapters||116 (12/23/81)||strong; sub-objectives structured along IGs|
|Italy||hierarchical; 5 main objectives||83 (5/11/67)||weak; 5 main objectives actually summarize IGs|
|Latvia||hierarchical; 5 main objectives||233 (5/61/167)||weak; 5 main objectives actually summarize IGs|
|Lithuania||hierarchical; 3 main objectives||284 (3/13/268)||strong; objectives and actions clearly structured along IGs|
|Luxembourg||hierarchical; 20 main objectives||268 (20/56/192)||strong; objectives and actions clearly structured along IGs|
|Malta||clearly hierarchical; 5 main objectives||78 (5/20/53)||no reference to IGs|
|The Netherlands||hierarchical; 19 main objectives||195 (19/55/121)||strong; objectives structured along IGs|
|Poland||clearly hierarchical; 6 main objectives||130 (6/42/82)||weak; objectives structured along the 3 main policy areas of the IGs**|
|Portugal||mixed; 7 main objectives, actions/measures specified in separate chapters||164 (7/31/126)||weak; objectives structured along the 3 main policy areas of the IGs**|
|Slovakia||hierarchical; 5 main objectives||125 (5/17/103)||medium; linkage between objectives and IGs specified in the NRP annex|
|Slovenia||hierarchical; 5 main objectives||265 (5/40/220)||medium; linkage between objectives and IGs specified in the NRP annex|
|Spain||mixed; 3 main objectives plus 7 ‘pillars’ for which actions and measures are specified||301 (10/51/240)||medium; linkage between objectives and IGs specified in the NRP annex|
|Sweden||hierarchical; 21 main objectives||307 (21/67/219)||strong; NRP clearly structured along IGs|
|UK||mixed; 6 main objectives, actions/measures specified in separate chapters||187 (6/17/164)||weak; objectives structured along the 3 main policy areas of the IGs**|
* total number of objectives and actions; in brackets: top-level goals / high-level priorities / key issues & measures; see Table 2 for details about this classification
** The Integrated guidelines for growth and jobs are structured according to the three main policy areas ‘Macroeconomic guidelines’, ‘Microeconomic guidelines’ and ‘Employment guidelines’
*** Due to the on-going elaboration of the document at the time of study, issues, actions and measures were not included in the analysis
Overall, it seems that the coherence of Lisbon objectives across the EU is not as strong as one might expect based on the fact that OMC features are stronger here than in the context of the EU SDS. However, if we look at the use of indicators in both the Lisbon and the SD strategy processes, the picture is somewhat different.
In contrast to the usage of SDIs in national SD strategy processes (see ESDN Quarterly Report December 2007) where some countries did not adopt SDIs so far, all EU-25 Member States have adopted indicator sets to monitor progress towards the EU’s Lisbon goals specified in their NRPs. Table 2 provides an overview of the usage of indicators in NRPs and corresponding progress reports (PR) from 2006.
Table 2: Usage of indicators in NRPs and progress reports
|Country||Indicators in NRPs and/or PRs*||Number of indicators in NRPs / PRs**||Explicit reference to EU Structural Indicators|
|Austria||Indicators included in NRP; smaller set in PR||72 / 43||-|
|Belgium||No indicators in NRP; small set included in PR||0 / 20||-|
|Cyprus||Some indicators in NRP, longer list in PR||26 / 83||-|
|Czech Republic||Indicators included in NRP, revised set in PR||27 / 36||-|
|Denmark||Comprehensive sets of indicators included both in NRP and PR||119 / 129||-|
|Estonia||Comprehensive set of indicators included in NRP; smaller set in PR||101 / 72||-|
|Finland||Indicators included in NRP; smaller set in PR||51 / 36||-|
|France||No indicators in NRP; comparatively few included in PR||0 / 7||-|
|Germany||Some indicators included in NRP, revised set in PR||12 / 20||Short list of SIs included in NRP|
|Greece||Comparatively few indicators included both in NRP and PR||12 / 12||-|
|Hungary||Comprehensive set of indicators included in NRP||309 / N/A||-|
|Ireland||Indicators included in NRP; revised set in PR||20 / 29||-|
|Italy||No indicators in NRP, but included in PR||0 / 16||-|
|Latvia||Indicators included in NRP; revised set in PR||23 / 16||Short list of SIs included in NRP|
|Lithuania||Indicators included in NRP; smaller set in PR||71 / 26||Short list of SIs included in NRP|
|Luxembourg||Indicators included in NRP; more comprehensive set in PR||37 / 130||List of SIs (with data for Luxembourg) included in NRP|
|Malta||Comparatively few indicators included in NRP; more comprehensive set in PR||8 / 69||-|
|The Netherlands||Indicators included in NRP; comprehensive set in PR||77 / 121||Short list of SIs and EMCO*** indicators included in NRP|
|Poland||No indicators in NRP, but included in PR||0 / 32||-|
|Portugal||No indicators in NRP, comparatively few included in PR||0 / 12||-|
|Slovakia||Indicators included in NRP, revised set in PR||49 / 62||-|
|Slovenia||Indicators included in NRP; comprehensive set in PR||13 / 99||Short list of SIs included in NRP|
|Spain||Comprehensive set of indicators included in NRP, even more comprehensive set in PR||130 / 238||-|
|Sweden||Comprehensive set of indicators included in NRP||96 / N/A||Short list of SIs and EMCO*** indicators included in NRP|
|UK||Comparatively few indicators in both NRP and PR||3 / 8||-|
* Only the 2006 progress reports were included in the study. However, in the meantime the 2007 progress reports have been published by the Member States
** Numbers refer to the indicators used in the NRP and 2006 progress reports
*** EMCO indicators are used to monitor the Employment Guidelines (2005-2008) that are part of the Integrated guidelines for growth and jobs (for the current list of EMCO indicators, see http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/employment_strategy/docindic_en.htm)
Table 2 shows that NRP indicator sets differ strongly with respect to their size. While some countries have a rather small set with about 10 indicators (such as Greece, France and the UK), others use comprehensive sets with more than 100 indicators (such as Denmark, Hungary and Spain). Virtually all countries have included a revised set of indicators in their 2006 progress reports. However, no common trend of decreasing or increasing indicator sets is observable. While a number of countries have increased the size of their set considerably (e.g. Luxembourg, Slovenia and Spain), others made efforts to include a smaller set in their 2006 progress reports (e.g. Austria, Finland and Lithuania). As regards the EU Structural Indicators, six countries (Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden) included the short list of 14 indicators in their NRPs. Additionally, two countries (the Netherlands and Sweden) included the so-called EMCO indicators that are used to monitor the Employment Guidelines (2005-2008) that are part of the Integrated guidelines for growth and jobs. Only one country (Luxembourg) included a more comprehensive version of the EU Structural Indicators broken down to the national situation.
As for virtually all countries more than one indicator set was available (one derived from the NRP and another one derived from the corresponding progress report), the different sets have been compared and merged before the following steps of the analysis were undertaken (i.e. indicators that were identical in both sets were included only once).
This Section compares the NRP indicator sets used in the EU-25 with the EU Structural Indicators as listed in the structural indicators database. While the comparison was conducted on the basis of individual indicators, the results presented here are shown for the aggregated level of EU Structural Indicator themes. When interpreting the results of this comparison, it is important to keep in mind that a low score does not necessarily mean that the particular theme is not addressed at all. It could also indicate that it is addressed differently than by the EU Structural Indicator set. Figure 2 shows the degree to which the NRP indicator sets of the EU-25 address the six EU Structural Indicator themes.
Figure 2: European coherence regarding NRP indicators compared to the EU Structural Indicators (SIs)
Note: The colour code used in Figure 2 indicates the degree to which a country’s indicator set addresses the EU Structural Indicators themes. For instance, the Austrian indicator set addresses more than two-thirds of the indicators listed under the EU SI theme ‘general economic background’ (dark-green), but it addresses less than one-third of the indicators specified in the theme ‘economic reform’ (beige). Themes that are not addressed by national indicator sets are highlighted in orange.
Obviously, the EU SI theme ‘general economic background’ is the one that is addressed by far most coherently. The most prominent indicators under this theme are, for example, public balance, real GDP growth and GDP per capita. ‘Employment’ and ‘innovation and research’ are other prominent themes in all national indicator sets analysed. Frequent indicators used for these themes are total employment rate, employment rate of older workers and life-long learning (theme ‘employment’) and gross domestic expenditure on R&D, youth education attainment level and broadband penetration rate (theme ‘innovation and research’). In contrast, countries obviously use few or different indicators for the themes ‘economic reform’ (such as comparative price levels, business investments and business demography) and ‘social cohesion’ (such as early school-leavers, long-term unemployment rate and at-risk-of-poverty rate after social transfers). For the complete list of Structural Indicators and the assignment of individual indicators to the six themes, see http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/structuralindicators.
Figure 3 summarises the findings shown in Figure 2 for the vertical country axis by using the same colour code. Notably, countries showing relatively high scores in addressing the EU SI themes (Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Luxembourg and Spain) all use a comprehensive indicator set. As the EU SI set consists of 132 indicators, it is no surprise that countries with rather small sets (in particular Greece, France and the UK) cannot address the EU SI themes comprehensively.
Figure 3: Overview of how comprehensively countries cover the EU set of Structural Indicators (SIs)
Note: The colour code used in Figure 3 indicates the degree to which national NRP indicator sets refer to the indicators identified in the six EU Structural Indicator themes. For instance, the indicator set of Spain addresses all EU SI themes; two to a high (dark-green), three to a medium (light-green) and one to a low degree (beige). On the other hand, the Italian indicator set only addresses three of the six EU SI themes (to a low extent).
Notably, Hungary addresses all EU SI themes to a high degree. This is due to the fact that Hungary uses by far the largest indicator set consisting of 309 single indicators. Another country (Luxembourg) addresses all EU SI themes at least to a medium degree. Again, this result is not surprising as Luxembourg adopted a comprehensive set of 130 indicators in its NRP progress report (see Table 2). These two examples illustrate that the coherence of indicator sets depends also on the size of the indicator sets adopted by Member States.
Figure 4 summarises how the six SI themes are addressed by the EU-25. Again, it highlights the comparatively strong coherence among economic indicators listed in particular under the theme ‘general economic background’. On the other hand, we see a comparatively weak coherence as regards the themes ‘economic reform’ and ‘social cohesion’.
Figure 4: EU SI themes addressed by national indicator sets
Note: The colour code used in Figure 4 indicates the degree to which the EU SI themes are addressed by national indicator sets. The theme ‘social cohesion’, for instance, is addressed by two indicator sets to a high degree (dark-green), by five to a medium degree (light-green), by fifteen to a low degree (beige), and by three indicator sets not at all.
After reviewing how coherent Structural Indicators are used in the EU-25, this section draws a comparison with the findings on the use of SD indicators across Europe (documented in the ESDN Quarterly Report December 2007). This comparison is relevant because both processes are supposed to play a complementary role in SD policy making (for details, see the introduction).
When comparing Figure 3 above and Figure 6 from the last report on the use of SD indicators across Europe, it becomes obvious that the coherence between national and EU indicators is considerably higher in the context of the Lisbon process than for SD strategies. While, for example, several countries address one or even two of the EU SI themes to a high degree, for SDIs we find this level of coherence only for one country.
When comparing Figure 4 above and Figure 7 from the last report, both showing how coherently EU indicator themes are addressed by the EU Member States, we again see a higher degree of coherence for the Structural Indicators. Notably, the SI theme ‘general economic background’ and the EU SDI theme ‘economic development’, respectively, show the highest degree of coherence. This indicates that there are already well established and agreed sets of indicators covering the economic dimension of SD. On the other hand, the coherence for the SI themes ‘economic reform’ or ‘social cohesion’ on the one hand and the SDI themes ‘good governance’ as well as ‘global partnership’ on the other is comparatively low.
Figure 5 compares the overall coherence between national and EU level indicator sets for both the SIs and SDIs, i.e. it summarizes Figure 3 above and Figure 6 from the last report by using percentage scores instead of colour codes. (Please note that, for the sake of clarity, Figure 5 includes only those countries with both SI and SDI sets. All other countries with one indicator set are displayed in Figure 6).
Figure 5 again shows that for a majority of the EU Member States the use of indicators in the context of the Lisbon Process is more coherent than for the use of SDIs. While six countries (Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden) address more than 40 percent of the EU Structural Indicators, the maximum degree of coherence between national and EU level SDIs is only around 30 percent. Only four countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy and the UK; highlighted in blue at the bottom of Figure 5) show a higher degree of coherence for SDIs than for SIs.
Figure 5: Comparison of overall coherence between national and EU level indicators
Note: The horizontal axis indicates the degree to which a country’s indicator set addresses the indicators used in the EU sets. Luxembourg, for instance, addresses more than 50 percent of the EU Structural Indicators with its national SI set, and addresses about 15 percent of the EU SDI set with its national SDI set.
Notably, Austria, Denmark and Sweden have quite comprehensive sets of both Structural and SD Indicators that show a high degree of coherence with the respective EU indicator sets. Due to very small sets of both Structural and SD Indicators (7 and 12, respectively), France shows a comparatively low degree of coherence for both comparisons. Many other countries show an ambiguous picture that can be described as follows:
To complete the picture, Figure 6 depicts those countries that have adopted only one set of indicators (either SIs or SDIs).
Figure 6: Coherence score for countries with only one set of indicators (either SIs or SDIs)
Note: The horizontal axis indicates the degree to which a country’s indicator set addresses the indicators used in the EU sets. Hungary, for instance, addresses more than 85 percent of the EU Structural Indicators with its national SI set, but has no established SDI set.
So far, we have explored the coherence of indicators for themes and countries. But what about the degree of coherence for the three dimensions of SD? Are, for example, economic indicators used more coherently across Europe than social or environmental ones? Figure 7 answers these questions graphically by summarising themes and indicators for the three dimensions of SD as follows:3
Figure 7 clearly answers the questions asked above. On the one hand, it reaffirms that vertical integration of indicator sets is stronger for the Lisbon process than for SD strategies. Regarding the three dimensions of SD it shows that economic indicators are by far used most coherently, in particular in SI sets. Social and environmental indicators, on the other hand, show a much lesser degree of coherence: National SI sets on average address only about 30 percent of the EU SIs referring to the social and environmental dimensions. As regards the social and environmental dimension, however, it has to be noticed that this result is biased because these two dimensions consist of more SDIs than SIs. This means that more EU SDIs have to be addressed by countries to reach a similar degree of coherence as on the SI side. The environmental dimension, for instance, consists of one SI theme containing 20 indicators, whereas for the SD side it consists of four themes containing 74 indicators.
Figure 7: Coherence of Structural and SD Indicators regarding economic, social and environmental issues
Note: The horizontal axis indicates the degree to which the national indicator sets on average address the indicators used in the EU sets. For instance, 60 percent of the EU Structural Indicators referring to economic issues (i.e. belonging to the SI theme ‘general economic background’) are on average addressed by national SI sets. On the other hand, only 20 percent of the EU SD Indicators referring to social issues (i.e. belonging to the EU SDI themes ‘poverty and social exclusion’, ‘ageing society’ and ‘public health’) are addressed by national SDI sets.
3 The SI themes ‘innovation and research’ and ‘economic reform’ as well as the SDI themes ‘good governance’ and ‘global partnership’ have been excluded in this comparison because they are hybrid themes that do not fit into one of the three dimensions of SD.
As emphasised above, the Lisbon Process and SD strategies are often framed as complementary processes, both aiming at SD in Europe. This is the background against which we finally explore some similarities, difference and linkages between the two processes.
The most obvious similarities between the Lisbon and SD strategies touch on process issues related to OMC. While the Lisbon Process fully embodies OMC, the EU SD Strategy process embraces OMC-like features to an increasing degree (Berger & Steurer, 2007):
However, since OMC stands for relatively open governance arrangements, it is no surprise that also some differences emerge beneath the mentioned similarities. Table 3 briefly summarises key similarities as well as differences between Lisbon and SD strategies, including the EU SD strategy process (for further details, see also Pirgmaier, 2008).
Table 3: Similarities and differences between the Lisbon Strategy and SD Strategies
|Lisbon strategies||SD strategies and the EU SDS|
|Main EU strategy||Relaunched Lisbon Strategy (2005)||Renewed EU SDS (2006)|
|National strategy documents||National Reform Programmes (NRP)||National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS)|
|Orientation||Aim to improve competitiveness in Europe in the medium term||Aim to achieve SD in Europe in the long term|
|Focus of horizontal integration||Focus on economic and employment trajectories and policies; no ambitious environmental objectives||Balances economic, social and environmental objectives (with an emphasis on the latter two)|
|Features of vertical integration||
|Responsible unit at European Commission||Secretariat General|
|European Council discussion||March Council||December Council|
|National coordination||NRP Focal Points (“Mr or Mrs Lisbon”): high-level politicians||SDS Coordinators: public administrators|
|Responsible ministry at the national level (most often)||Ministry of Economic Affairs||Ministry of the Environment|
|Governance cycle||3 years||5 years|
|Suggested length of national progress reports||Max. 40 pages (exceeded by all Member States, ranging from approx. 50 – 250 pages)||Max. 25 pages (exceeded by most Member States)|
Because Lisbon and SD strategies are often framed as two processes that complement each other in the pursuit of SD, one would expect relatively close ties not only between the respective EU strategies, but in particular between NRPs and national SD strategies. However, as Elke Pirgmaier (2008) shows with three qualitative case studies on the UK, Sweden and Austria, everyday governance routines do not necessarily match with rhetoric.
In all three countries studied, the responsibility for Lisbon and SD strategies is assumed by different inter-ministerial bodies, and the ties between them are overall rather weak. In Austria and the UK, officials from the Environment Ministry are responsible for commenting on the NRP and progress reports, in particular on the Guideline 11 chapter regarding the sustainable use of natural resources and strengthening synergies between environmental protection and economic growth. Likewise, administrators responsible for the Lisbon process comment on drafts related to the SD strategy process of their country in similar ways. Close coordination of Lisbon and SD policies does not take place. Although Sweden has established at least stronger personal ties between the Lisbon and the SDS groups, Pirgmaier (2008) concludes, “All government officials across the three countries agree that both strategic processes co-exist side by side” instead of being intertwined.
One way of changing this obvious co-existence is to strengthen institutional ties between the two processes; another one would be to merge the two processes into a new coherent strategic effort. The second option has been discussed frequently (for instance when the EU SD strategy was renewed in 2005/2006), and it is likely that the discussion will be reassumed (at least in some Member States) whenever one of the two processes needs to be renewed. Let’s follow how it continues.
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