Global Economics

Spain to Push New Europe Economic Plan


Madrid says it will aim for an improved successor to the Lisbon Agenda economic strategy when it assumes the rotating 6-month EU presidency in January

Spain is planning to try and push through new rules to help tackle the economic crisis when it takes over as the EU presidency country in January.

Diego Lopez Garrido, Spain's minister for European affairs, said on Tuesday (8 December) that Madrid's priority would be to "work to obtain a recovery of the European economy."

The main goal is to get the bloc's new 10-year economic strategy agreed. The current strategy, known as the Lisbon Agenda and tainted with a reputation for missed objectives and lack of ambition on the part of member states, expires next year.

"The new strategy should be based not only on targets...but on governance," said Mr Garrido, while admitting that changing this will be "the most difficult question." Implementation of the current strategy relies largely on the good will of national governments.

The economic plan bringing Europe to 2020 is likely to focus on the need for green technologies, education tailored to industries' needs and greater research.

Madrid also wants to have financial supervision laws approved during its presidency, running to 30 June.

EU finance ministers last week broadly agreed to set up three pan-European watchdogs to supervise banks, insurers and trading exchanges. Another agency is to look out for wider risks to the economy. The complicated agreement will have to be signed off by EU leaders meeting later this week if it is to gain political momentum.

"Our goal is...to agree directives on financial supervision, macro-prudential supervision and micro-prudential supervision," said Mr Garrido.

Other goals include managing to win approval of an anti-discrimination directive as well as tackling violence against women.

With the global climate change talks due to come to an end next week in Copenhagen, it will be up to Spain to shape the EU's energy action plan, a strategy that will reflect what is agreed in the Danish capital.

Madrid's six-month presidency will also be largely shaped by that fact that it will take place in a whole new legal context—under the Lisbon Treaty.

The new rules are unclear on exactly how the presidency, in charge of running the day-to-day affairs of the European Union, will work along side the president of the European Council and the foreign policy chief, two posts created by the treaty.

How Spain manages the set-up is likely to be used as a template for future presidencies.

Calling the presidency "very particular," Mr Garrido said Spain's duty will be to "reinforce and to give visibility to [Herman] Van Rompuy and Lady [Catherine] Ashton." He later added that Spain itself will "obviously" have a "relevant role" too.

The Europe minister also said that Madrid is hoping to have the format for the new EU diplomatic service agreed by April, a slightly faster timetable than had been envisioned to date, calling it "one of the most important tools to highlight European identity in the world."

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