Permanent Forum of European Civil Society. Working Group 4.
Growth and Jobs: A New Start for the Lisbon Strategy

The Permanent Forum is inviting the joint European Economic and Social Committee and Civil Society Liaison Committee to establish a "European Roundtable on the New Competitiveness Tools".


1. The Commission communication addressed to the Spring European Council COM (2005)24 refers to a "partnership for growth and jobs"
2. The Social Partners are invited to develop a joint Lisbon action programme ahead of the Spring 2005 European Council. This strategy must be taken forward through a renewed partnership between the Member States and the Union - with the full involvement of the social partners.
3. "Everyone with a stake in Lisbon's success and at every level must be involved in delivering these reforms". (…) The Lisbon agenda must be owned by all stakeholders at EU, national, regional and local level
4. The Union Action Programme and National Action Programmes should build on 3 central concepts including “to mobilise support for change"
5. As noted in the European Economic and Social Committee's October 2004 Opinion on ‘Improving the Implementation of the Lisbon Strategy' “a major weak spot in the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy is the failure to adequately involve civil society players"(§6.3).
Convinced that
5. The support of workers and civil society organisations will not be obtained if Europe would be paying for its improved short-term economic performance by borrowing against the future, create greater inequality, increase poverty, lawlessness and incarceration, force millions of people into long-term debt and bankruptcy. The most important step for all policy-makers to ask is “what would policy look like if it were seeking to promote well-being" , one of the objective of Europe as defined by its Constitution.
6. "There is a growing realization in the NGO community of the power of markets. Leading NGOs have concluded that the change to create a sustainable world will not come from governments. It can only come from making markets work to support sustainable development. However, that also means that we will see the NGO community utilizing the power of markets to a higher degree via campaigns, via demands for internalising of environmental costs to get the prices right and other similar actions" Bjorn Stigson, WBCSD President.
7. European competitiveness depends on the South desirably catching up with the North in terms of environment and well-being standards, It is vital, for our own competitiveness, to help our South partners to set the bar of their own expectations higher about finding products that are good for health, employment and the environment on their own domestic markets. It is through a rapid convergence of the South that the good stand currently made by Europeans in top-of-the-range products can be maintained.
8. With successful “socially responsible investments (SRI)" and “sustainable consumption and production" initiatives, European niche markets of today are paving the way for a new “sustainable single market" of tomorrow and new joint ventures with the South. It is in the direct interest of many companies offering high-added value products or services in the social, ecological or cultural fields to exercise collective leadership with the other stakeholders to transform the niche markets of today in mainstream markets by 2012, enhancing European competitiveness, creating new business models, working for a good health for everyone in a healthy environment, favouring social cohesion and sustainability.
9. The key is innovation - product innovation, technological innovation, business model innovation, social innovation (e.g. leapfrogging) and communication innovation .
Underlining that
10. "Policy makers have failed to work out how best to exploit the potential synergies between economic growth and competitiveness, and business strategies and practices that factor in social and environmental performance" (Responsible Competitiveness Index. AccountAbility. UK)
11. The Lisbon II should be build on the concept of "innovation by agreements", designed by the Feira European Council Summit to "promote innovation and organisational learning in the context of negotiating consent for change" needs to be expanded to a broader European, Business and Civil Society agenda". Flexibility by consent and innovation-by-agreement are the keys to global competitive success
12.Today, the challenge is to create a critical mass and a "scale effect" for successful new businesses, social enterprises included, and niche markets towards a "close the loop economy", "sustainable trade", "solidarity and equity". It is a key leverage of European competitiveness in a new world requiring a strong involvement of citizens on the market, as consumers, investors, workers. By doing so we will as well contribute to human security and the design of the "European Social Model" needed to secure European social cohesion.
13. En réalité, la “nouvelle compétitivité" se construit d'ores et déjà à partir d'une multiplicité d'initiatives - qui sont des succès trop peu connus par les institutions, les pouvoirs publics et le grand public - prises au sein des États de l'Union par de multiples acteurs économiques, sociaux, associatifs.

The Permanent Forum is inviting the European Economic and Social Committee to establish a “European Roundtable on the New Competitiveness Tools" in order to:
- presenter ces initiatives
- rassembler des porteurs d'initiatives exemplaires, soit ces « champions », l'avant-garde d'une société plus solidaire
- donner un plus grand effet multiplicateur à leurs actions en les faisant participer à l'élaboration du plan Européen et des plans nationaux pour “croissance et emplois".

La table ronde
- présenterait des etudes de cas, des « champions », les initiatives qui mériteraient d'être reconnues sur le plan européen et qui pourraient jouir d'un effet multiplicateur grâce à un contrat pour une société du bien être
- diffuserait l'information au niveau Européen et dans les Etats Membres.

The Permanent members of the Roundtable on the “New Competitiveness Tools" would be
- the Social Partners
- Civil Society
- Commission Directorates
- National “Growth and Jobs" platforms.