Tomorrow, the European Union will unveil its Europe 2020 strategy, designed to make Europe the most competitive, dynamic, knowledge-based economy by 2020. If the slogan appears familiar, that’s because it is.
In 2000, the EU launched its Lisbon Agenda, to make Europe the most competitive, dynamic, knowledge-based economy by 2010. It failed. Badly. But instead of admitting defeat, the EU has resorted to its time honored tradition – don’t let a good crisis go to waste. It has become even more hubristic, seeking to centralize greater areas of policymaking and determine a “one-size-fits-all” policy for economic growth.
The centerpiece of Brussels’ agenda is to grow a sustainable and competitive green economy in the next decade. President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, announced yesterday that the EU could save € 60 billion in oil and gas imports by 2020 and create 2.8 million jobs in the renewable energy sector.
Although hope isn’t a strategy, this plan doesn’t even reach that qualification. It’s a pipe dream. Europe’s current contingent of ‘green jobs’ – mostly in Spain, Denmark and Germany – are subsidized to ridiculously high levels, are largely temporary and cost far more jobs in the private sector that they create. If anything, Europe2020 will cost Europe money, rather than reviving its economic fortunes; it merely doubles-down on failure.
The answer is far simpler: economic freedom is the best path to prosperity. When individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest wherever they choose, there are corresponding increases in income, economic growth rates, human development, and environmental protection. The positive relationship between economic freedom and prosperity is confirmed yet again in The Heritage Foundation’s 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. Economic freedom also correlates strongly with poverty reduction, which is a major stated concern of the European Union.
So, instead of employing vast numbers of bureaucrats and politicians to promote wasteful and ill-thought out EU policies, the EU would do best to promote free trade, reduce red tape, increase property rights and address the pervasive corruption in its own ranks. Until the EU realizes that it is the problem, economic growth will continue to flounder and member states will be back on the same roundabout in 2020 – to agree a Europe 2030 strategy.