On right path to Lisbon targets, must persevere

Greece’s program of reforms aimed at the attainment by 2010 of the targets set by the European Union’s updated Lisbon Strategy does include the appropriate policies and measures but the general framework still needs to be specified in some cases, a European Commission report released in Brussels yesterday said. «According to the general guidelines set, the National Reform Program identifies and responds to the basic challenges that Greece is being called upon to deal with, mainly in the sectors of public finance, employment, education and continuing education, as well as in some particular policy sectors concerning the economy and the environment,» said the Commission. The report, which was issued along with those for the other 24 member states, carries a generally positive evaluation of Greece’s reform program. However, it urges the faithful and resolute pursuit of the targets set, insisting that implementation of the initiatives will require a high degree of continuous commitment. What are considered the strong points of the Greek reform program are the high degree of connection between its priorities and current and future EU funding supports, as well as the systematic incorporation of technological modernization for all relevant policies. The Commission views the following points as requiring particular attention for the attainment of the growth and employment targets: fiscal stabilization through the adoption of measures of a permanent character; ensuring that measures concerning research, technology and innovation form part of an overall strategy along with the participation of public and private partners; the modernization of public administration; and bolder measures concerning the labor market. Regarding the situation of the Greek economy, the Commission notes that growth rates have averaged 4.4 percent since 1999 and that labor productivity has improved more than the EU average. However, the rates of job creation and employment are low, with only 59.4 percent of the population employed, against a target of 62.5 percent by 2008 and 70 percent by 2010 as set by the Lisbon Strategy. The report welcomes the targets of raising investment in research and development from 0.58 percent of GDP to 1.5 percent by 2010, and spending on education to 5 percent of GDP by 2008.

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