With roughly 40% of legislation drawn up in the context of the Lisbon framework still to make it on to national statute books, by the reckoning of some social policy think tanks, one may be forgiven for thinking that the strategy is now doomed. But the European Commission has other ideas.

The EU executive is determined that Lisbon is not a complete failure. It admits that the mid-term targets - 67% employment in 2005 - have already been missed, but is fairly confident that 70% employment can be achieved by 2010, providing that Member States pull their socks up a little.

It must be a very frustrating time for Stavros Dimas, who has just taken over from Anna Diamantopoulou as Employment Commissioner. Not only is he new to the Brussels game, but he has inherited a whole multitude of problems not of his, or his predecessor's, making.

Does this mean, though, that the right strategy is for the Commission to lavish criticism and stern reprisals on the Member States? This month, the EU's executive pointed up the failings of the 15 members of the EU, plus the 10 accession states due to join on May 1, and called on them to make some urgent changes. A noble endeavour, perhaps, but one that rather supposes the Member States will sit up and take notice of Brussels, which...

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