The aim of the Lisbon Agenda was to make the EU, by 2010, “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”. The year 2010 was two years ago. Has anyone noticed recently that the EU is now the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion?
It would have been better not to be reminded of this farce because it only brings back to memory that, when it comes to forward-looking behavior, Europeans (not only the Greeks!) are great with words but very short on action and actual results. I remember a conversation I once had with a Mid-Western American about the differences between Americans and Europeans (he had broad business experiences in Europe). His assessment was: “Europeans are so brainy. They analyze things down to the smallest detail but in the process they tend to forget the action. We Americans are more action-oriented, perhaps sometimes the wrong action but, nevertheless, at least some action”.
Perhaps one could have phrased the objective of the Lisbon Agenda a bit differently, for example:
“We plan to build a modern and prosperous Europe: a Europe characterized by economic opportunity and social equity, and served by an efficient administration with a strong public service ethos!”
Replace the word “Europe” with “Greece” and you have the mission statement of the EU Task Force for Greece.
My reader, Bandolero, listed a selection of points of the Lisbon Agenda:
* better regulation with compulsory business assessment for new legislative proposals;
reforms of social security systems;
* increased investment in R&D and innovation by Member States, universities and industry;
* reductions of company tax levels;
* better education on entrepreneurship;
* more flexible regulation of labour markets;
* implementation of internal market legislation.
In the Lisbon Agenda, they referred to such points as “policy initiatives”. The Greeks now refer to them as “memorandum”.
The fallacy is to consider efforts like “policy initiatives” or “memoranda” as something one does for others, like private creditors or other governments. If I had to make a policy statement, it would be that “there will always be a better tomorrow as long as a society has its basic values in the right place and the better tomorrow is not for private creditors or other governments; it is for our next generations!”
I can fully understand that Greeks presently no longer share the belief that there will be a better tomorrow. They have good reasons for feeling that way. One can analyze down the the smallest detail why it has come this far. Perhaps one will collect praise for good analyses.
What is required, however, are “policy initiatives” for a better tomorrow. I have expressed my opinion before that Alexis Tsipras has a wonderful way of putting credible policy initiatives into wonderful words. Personally, I think his policy initiatives would fail because they rely on an even greater role of the state in the economy. Others favor his policy initiatives on the grounds that they would really “run Greece into the ground” and then Greeks would be forever cured of romantic leftist dreams. And yet others, very prominent “others” I should add, believe that his policy initiatives are actually good ones.
We are not at that point just yet. The new government has laid out policy initiatives which remind me a bit of the Lisbon Agenda. If those policy initiatives take the course of the Lisbon Agenda, you might as well get the red carpet ready for Alexis Tsipras. If, however, good words are converted into excellent actions, there is still a chance that the better tomorrow will come about the “normal” way (rather than via the Alexis-Tsipras-cure).