Belfast Telegraph

EC 'wants economic policy control'

The European Commission has been accused of trying to take control of national economic policies.

The attack came after Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso chided "some national politicians" for failing to accept the need for tougher governance as part of EU "Lisbon Strategy" measures to boost jobs and growth.

He told Euro-MPs in Strasbourg that Europe had missed a 2010 deadline for becoming the most dynamic economy in the world partly because of the downturn but also because of the lack of a "full commitment" in some capitals.

Now, he said, the Commission's renewed "Lisbon 2020" campaign is the top policy for the next five years, to provide a sustainable economy based on innovation, clean energy, new technologies and "empowering" people with the right skills.

The key was reinforced coordination of national economic policies he insisted, adding: "One thing we have learned from the Lisbon Strategy is that it needs full commitment.

"Some national politicians have resisted stronger mechanisms of governance within the Lisbon Strategy.

"I hope that, following the lessons of inter-dependence, all European governments will recognise the need for full ownership of the 2020 strategy, and for full coordinated action."

The leader of Britain's Conservative MEPs Timothy Kirkhope responded; "The idea of compulsory economic policies is deeply disturbing. It reflects a very old fashioned 'command and control' approach which does not solve problems of the 21st century."

What was needed in Europe, he went on, was a set of national economic policies which stimulated the sharing of 'best practice' and gave added-value to the EU's jobs and growth goals.

He told Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero, holding the six-month EU presidency and also calling for "European economic governance", that crisis-hit Spain should "put its own house in order first".

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