"This disappointing delivery is due to an overloaded agenda, poor co-ordination and conflicting priorities. However, a key issue has been the lack of determined political action". No, not the stand-off over the new Commission. This is another EU problem of potentially greater significance. It's the future of Europe's economy.

The problem is set out in the upcoming official evaluation of progress with the ten-year plan to create a vibrant EU. The report, due for publication next week, will make uncomfortable reading for everyone involved.

It will say that after five years of the Lisbon Strategy, there is only a dim light from this beacon of hope that the EU can build competitiveness, improve social conditions, and promote sustainability.

The author of the evaluation, Wim Kok, will point the finger of blame unambiguously at the European Union and its Member States for failing to act with sufficient urgency. His report reveals confidence in the EU's potential - but it points out that no second chances are available. Objective circumstances - in the shape of a widening growth gap with North America and Asia, and a shrinking and ageing European population - are limiting the EU's options, Kok warns.

His suggested remedies are dynamic political leadership, clearer focus, and widespread engagement - by the European institutions, the Member States, and Europes citizens.


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