This opinion, a formal response to the Commission referral, also forms part of the EESC's integrated assessment responding to the request for an exploratory opinion on the forthcoming mid-term assessment of the Europe 2020 strategy made by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The EESC considers that the strategy that has proved to be largely insufficient to achieve the targets it has set itself and despite some encouraging results achieved in: A) combating climate change and in promoting sustainable energy, and B) education and reducing early school leaving, there are extremely worrying signs regarding spending on research and development (R&D), the labour market and the fight against poverty and social exclusion.
The Europe 2020 strategy's main problems can be seen in the areas of governance, the targets set, civil society participation and its implementation. The architecture of the strategy's governance has formalised a structural distortion in which economic aspects take precedence over social and environmental governance, subordinating the Europe 2020 targets to the macro-economic priorities of the European Semester. It is worrying that the Europe 2020 strategy does not involve organised civil society adequately, at either national or European level.
The Committee deems it necessary to promote a development model, where sustainable development is linked with the relevant Europe 2020 targets, in which the EU Member States, while continuing to pursue structural reforms geared to consolidating and ensuring the reliability of national finances, can - at the same time - support the implementation of policies that can: promote European competitiveness and its main stakeholders (workers, private businesses and social enterprises); promote the quantitative and qualitative growth of European investment (tangible, intangible and social); create more and better jobs; support social and territorial cohesion and address the problems related to high unemployment and rising levels of poverty and social exclusion.
The EESC considers it crucial to develop a monitoring system based on indicators that take account of households' disposable income, the quality of life, environmental sustainability, social cohesion and the health and overall well-being of present and future generations. With regard to the implementation and management of the new monitoring system, the EESC believes that a new structure should be set up, involving the relevant institutions.