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Introducing a very inspiring EurActiv Stakeholder Workshop today on “What Programme for the Next Commission?” (thanks, guys!), EurActiv Publisher Christophe Leclercq pointed out that there has not much been debate yet on what will replace the Lisbon Agenda and whether that will be a much broader agenda than hitherto. Well, that’s bound to change with a number of recent and forthcoming policy initiatives:

Commission President Barroso has just published a 41-page policy agenda, laying out his policy priorities for the next five years and his thoughts for an integrated vision 2020, which he would like to implement, should MEPs endorse him for another term on 16 September, which they are said to be likely to do. Also a draft of the European Innovation Action Plan is expected to be published at the end of this week, and the Commission is planning a public consultation on Post-Lisbon for mid-October, which should all stimulate a lot of debate amongst stakeholders, and, hopefully, the media and general public.

At the EurActiv stakeholder workshop there was much discussion about the need for a new “narrative” and “transformational” agenda addressing the internal and external challenges the Union faces with a medium- to long-term trajectory, which should also be more inclusive in terms of engaging national-level policy-makers, stakeholders and the public.

Post-Lisbon or, however this new policy vision will be finally called, as there is a clear need for a more inspirational title, touches on many of the issues that are at the core of the European project and the challenges Europe’s society’s increasingly face: growth and prosperity, energy and climate change, cohesion and regional development, ageing, education and skills and the social dimension and impact of liberalised markets.

As Ziga Turk, former Slovenian Minister for Growth and Secretary General of the Gonzalez group, put it neatly into one of his trademark soundbites, “The Europe of tomorrow is not about coal and steel but about sun and bytes”. Maria Rodrigues, Professor for Economics at the Lisbon University Institute and “mother of the Lisbon Agenda”, and, if I am not mistaken, chief engineer of the Open Method of Coordination, stated that all of this requires more coordination and a more active citizenship with clear implications for future governance.

Gerard De Graaf of the Commission’s Secretariat General and one of the leading draftspersons for this new strategy highlighted the need to focus on the “how” of this vision, the operational dimension, and on ways to better engage politicians and people and to build a momentum, as we cannot expect this to fly, if it remains a bureaucratic exercise. Among the other contributions, most notably, from Bjarne Kirsebom of the Swedish Presidency team, there was a call to shift resources to innovation and to focus more on the “grand challenges”.

It was also said that the importance of the Knowledge Triangle and the placed-based dimension was not very visible so far. Finally there was also a call to be much more practical and do the things that need to be done and not always get submerged by the eternal legitimacy debate. “Good products speak for themselves” was another of Ziga Turk’s soundbites, which rounded off the discussion.

If you are interested in more insights and debate on these important issues from a regional research and innovation perspective please mark the 18th of November in your calendar, when ERRIN will host its autumn conference on “Navigating beyond Lisbon – the regions on course to economic recovery and the knowledge economy!”. More info to follow soon in this blog.

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