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Document 52001IE0726

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Preparation of a European Union strategy for Sustainable Development"

OJ C 221, 7.8.2001, p. 169–177 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)


Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Preparation of a European Union strategy for Sustainable Development"

Official Journal C 221 , 07/08/2001 P. 0169 - 0177

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Preparation of a European Union strategy for Sustainable Development"

(2001/C 221/27)

On 24 and 25 January 2001 the Economic and Social Committee decided, in accordance with Rules 11(4), 19(1) and 23(3) of its Rules of Procedure, to draw up an opinion on "The preparation of a European Union strategy for sustainable development".

The Subcommittee "Sustainable Development", which was responsible for the preparatory work, adopted its draft opinion on 17 May 2001. The rapporteur was Mr Ehnmark, the co-rapporteur Mr Ribbe.

At its 382nd plenary session (meeting of 31 May 2001) the Economic and Social Committee adopted unanimously the following Opinion.

0. Summary of the Opinion

0.1. The Economic and Social Committee strongly supports the intention to launch, at the Gothenburg European summit in June this year, a long-term policy change in favour of Sustainable Development (SD). The Committee considers that this meets the concerns and anxieties of broad groups of citizens although society as a whole is not sufficiently informed. It is urgent for policy to take new directions and this is the right time to start the process.

0.2. The Committee is aware that policies for Sustainable Development contain in part and by their very nature a radical approach to the development of society in the future. Some painful decisions will have to be taken along the road. It is therefore all the more important that the policy shift is well anchored in public opinion. Without strong public support, no policy for Sustainable Development will be a success.

0.3. The Committee strongly deplores that the process of public consultation on the initial development of such an important and far-reaching strategy was confined to such a patently inadequate timespan as just over one month. The issue of sustainable development is far too important to handle in such a way.

0.4. The Committee recommends that a sustained effort be made after the Gothenburg summit to create public awareness, inspire debate at local level, and channel comments and suggestions concerning the development of the Strategy for Sustainable Development. The Committee sees this effort as an ideal case for creating wider public participation in a key Union policy issue.

0.5. The Committee will undertake, in co-operation with organized civil society in general, the work of initiating and supporting a wide public debate on the issues involved. The Committee welcomes the Commission's plan to hold biennial Stakeholder Forums to assess the EU SD Strategy and declares its willingness to be joint organiser.

0.6. The Committee underlines that, due to the short deadline, it is at present unable to make the full contribution it would have wished. For the same reason, Gothenburg will, of necessity, be only the start of a strategic process, not the final stage in adoption of an EU policy. The Committee therefore will make further, more substantive, inputs into the evolution of a strategy for sustainable development.

0.7. The Gothenburg summit should, bearing in mind the short time for preparation, focus on setting a number of general objectives and call on the Commission and other relevant bodies to present more concrete proposals to the Laeken and Barcelona summits.

0.8. The EU SD Strategy must aims to consolidate the inter-relationship between the three pillars - economic, social and environmental - and in this regard the Committee stresses the need for all levels of Government to introduce new horizontal structures for planning and monitoring the SDS.

0.9. The Committee proposes that sustainability targets be set in transport, energy production, agriculture and climate change.

0.10. The Committee notes that a society profiled by an SDS must be a knowledge-intensive society, with high investments in R& D and in education, training and lifelong learning.

0.11. The Committee is surprised that the issue of the ageing population is not more clearly linked to low and declining fertility rates in Member States. As part of the SDS there is scope for an active family support policy at national level, creating real economic and social opportunities for parents to combine children and career.

0.12. The Committee strongly supports the Kyoto protocol and expects the EU to act forcefully to sustain it as global strategy, pointing at the same time to the need for new and stricter limits.

0.13. The Committee declares its interest to be involved in the assessment and follow-up work of the Strategy for Sustainable Development. Particularly, the Committee is ready to mobilise its member organizations for strengthening communication with grass-roots levels, and to develop a Watch-dog function focusing on quality analysis of the SD implementation.

1. Introduction

1.1. An EU Strategy on Sustainable Development

1.1.1. With this Opinion, the Economic and Social Committee seeks to contribute to the discussion and preparation of the planned EU Strategy on Sustainable Development (SDS). This strategy, currently under preparation by the Commission and Council in response to the mandate of the December 1999 Helsinki European Council, will be the centrepiece of the Gothenburg European Council of 15 and 16 June 2001.

1.1.2. This European Council is expected to set in motion an SD process to be carried through under future EU Presidencies, adopting a set of political priorities and targets and agreeing on procedures. The intention is for the EU SDS to be intertwined with the Lisbon follow-up. Thus, the strategy's purpose is not to start up an additional EU process similar to "Lisbon" or "Luxembourg" but rather to provide a new and wider dimension to the Lisbon step. In this sense, there is a clear link between the Stockholm summit (March) and the Gothenburg summit (June).

1.1.3. The time perspective of the SD strategy will be long, up to 20-25 years for some objectives. Moreover, the strategy will emphasise the need for continuous evaluation and further development of targets and procedures.

1.1.4. The SDS will also encompass the response to the 1992 Rio summit and the decisions made at Rio+5, serving as the EU's contribution to the Rio+10 World summit in South Africa in 2002. In addition, it should also be considered in the light of the OECD's work in this field, carried out on the basis of a three-year mandate from the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in 1998. This work culminated in the OECD's Ministerial Council Meeting of 17 and 18 May 2001.

1.2. The Economic and Social Committee has a long record of opinions concerning environmental, economic and social issues. The Committee has contributed to the objectives and targets decided upon at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 and the follow-up at the Stockholm Council. The Committee, with its broad representativity of organized civil society, is thus in a special position to contribute to the preparation and follow-up of a strategy for sustainable development.

1.3. The concept of sustainable development

1.3.1. The 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) contained what has become the most widely accepted definition of sustainable development, describing it as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

1.3.2. In line with this, and in accordance with the Helsinki European Council conclusions, the EU SDS will be "a long-term strategy dovetailing policies for economically, socially and ecologically sustainable development". It is thereby a concept that aims at reconciling continued economic stability and growth with sustained social welfare and environmental protection requirements including such issues as food safety and public health. Put in another way, the SDS is about trying to solve some unsustainable long-term problems that have economic, social and environmental dimensions.

1.3.3. The Economic and Social Committee adds these comments on the concept of sustainable development: The concept is not new, and the policy implications are not unnoticed. A number of countries have taken decisions - particularly at the Rio conference and the follow-up - concerning the need for policies for sustainable development. However, as to concrete actions not very much has happened. A number of reasons can be given for this. The key one is probably that sustainable development is a very wide concept which involves parallel action at international and national levels as well as at local level, and indicates a change in life and consumer patterns. It is a concept with very clear implications for the individual citizen.

1.3.4. Nonetheless, the process has to begin, concrete policies to be outlined, and the ambition to launch an EU strategy for sustainable development can be, at long last, a real contribution to the implementation of the high ambitions of the Rio conference.

1.3.5. The EU strategy should help ensure a sustained and improved quality of life. It is a vision projecting development of our societies based on a platform of responsibility towards both people and nature. It is a timely theme, bearing in mind the increased attention attributed to issues of quality of life broad by groups of citizens. Sustainable development is a concept and a vision that is gaining in importance, in the EU and world-wide.

1.3.6. The Committee underlines that the concept of sustainable development presents a fairly radical approach to policies for developing our societies over a longer time-span. These policies will inevitably include some uncomfortable decisions. Our societies are however experiencing a number of trends that are simply not sustainable if we are to maintain economic growth, healthy public finances and a welfare system encompassing all.

1.3.7. Essentially, the choice is between taking decisions in a planned, rational way, or being forced to take them in emergencies.

2. The Commission's preparatory work on the SDS

2.1. On 27 March the Commission presented its consultative document on sustainable development. The document aimed to provide a basis for wide-ranging debates and discussions. A deadline for comments was set at the end of April so as to be able to take them into account in the final preparation of the proposal for an EU strategy.

2.1.1. The consultative paper did not include proposals for the forthcoming strategy. It provided instead a structure for analysing and making operational certain relevant issues. It included an analysis of factors that have so far prevented substantial progress in this field and an outline of a possible "toolkit" for implementing an SDS. To show the concept in terms of practice the paper focused on a limited number of contemporary crunch issues selected on the basis of three criteria: "severity/impact", "timescale" (irreversibility, inter-generational aspects) and "European/international dimension". These led the Commission to pick six priority issues:

- social exclusion/poverty;

- public health;

- demography/ageing;

- climate change/clean energy;

- depletion of natural resources;

- mobility and land use.

2.1.2. For each of these six areas, the consultative paper identified unsustainable trends in terms of economic, social and environmental development. The consultative paper was thus inviting broad discussion on positive and negative aspects of trends in society regardless of their connection to an SD strategy.

2.2. The strength of the consultative paper is the analysis of the unsustainable trends. As the paper points out, there is a broad consensus that the SDS should capture two important ideas:

- that development has an economic, a social and an environmental dimension. Development will only be sustainable if a balance is struck between the different factors that contribute to the overall quality of life;

- that the current generation has an obligation to future generations to leave sufficient stocks of social, environmental and economic resources for them to enjoy levels of well being at least as high as our own.

2.3. The Committee has found the consultative paper valuable as a basis for discussion. The key problem is that it came late and offered too little time for broad consultation. The Committee comments on this in part 6.

3. Joint ESC/Commission Hearing

3.1. In cooperation with the European Commission, the Committee organized at the end of April a two-day Hearing on the consultative paper. The Hearing brought together some 200 representatives of stake-holder and civil society organizations, governments and EU institutions. The debates were lively, concrete, and gave a number of suggestions in view of the Gothenburg summit decisions.

3.2. Three overriding comments stood out:

3.2.1. The first focused on the need for political vision and leadership. It was emphasised again and again that governments and politicians must take the lead in shaping a political vision, in showing political leadership and fixing priorities.

3.2.2. The second centred on the need for extensive R& D work as forming the basis for the SDS decisions. If anything, a society with an SDS profile must be a society with high investment levels in R& D and in education and training.

3.2.3. The third looked to the global dimension, not much discussed in the Commission paper. It is necessary that the EU take the lead in a global context, in deciding on an SDS and giving inspiration to other countries.

3.3. To these comments could be added a few others.

3.3.1. There was no single solution. So the right method was to saturate existing policies with sustainable development above and beyond the Cardiff Process. Important policies would be agriculture and fisheries where bio-diversity, public health and ultimately survival itself were at stake on account of non-sustainable policies.

3.3.2. The role of industry in shaping and implementing an SDS was much discussed. In line with what was said, industry is to-day as a general rule to be seen as an ally in implementing SDS.

3.3.3. The need for sustainable public finances was another important topic, particularly in the context of the ageing population and increasing demands for elderly care.

3.3.4. On the other hand, the issue of low fertility was more or less left out, although it does constitute a very obvious part of the total equation of ageing population and sustained public finances. The issue of a more active family policy - comprising children, parent(s) and elderly - at national level, was thereby not discussed; yet an active family support policy could give parents real opportunities to combine children, caring and career.

4. Comments on the preparatory work.

4.1. The Economic and Social Committee views the upcoming decisions on sustainable development as the start of a long process.

4.2. Even so, the Committee deplores that the Commission consultative paper is presented late in the preparatory process allowing such a short time for wide-ranging consultation. The Helsinki European summit in 1999 decided that the issue of sustainable development should be a key topic at the Gothenburg summit. The time-span would have made it possible to launch a wide consultation process prior to the decisions. Broad public support could have been established. Organized civil society would have been actively involved in the preparation of the strategy.

4.3. A sustainable development strategy is clearly very difficult to formulate and for this very reason cannot be drawn up and adopted in a rush.

4.4. A broadly-based consultation and participation process should have been set in train. A consultative paper - such as the one presented on 27 March 2001 - could have presented the interim findings of such a process. After the causes of previous failings had been discussed, the framing of a strategy - as part of a dialogue - to remedy these failings would have been the right way to formulate a policy that would have been acceptable.

4.5. The Committee appreciates, however, that the Commission and the Committee have had the opportunity to organize jointly the two-day hearings at the end of April.

4.6. The Commission, however, knows itself how important consultation and participation is as it has just presented a paper on governance dealing with this. Moreover the Strategy Proposal "A Sustainable Europe for a better World"(1), written after the joint hearing (4.5 above) insists on the key role of early and systematic dialogue.

5. Wide Public Consultation

5.1.1. The Economic and Social Committee views the decision on a strategy for sustainable development as one of the most important decisions of the European Union in recent years. It will have profound effects on our societies. It will deal with changes in life-style and consumer patterns.

5.1.2. Because of their importance, issues in sustainable development must be supported and implemented from bottom up, not introduced top down.

5.1.3. Rarely has the Union been confronted with policy issues that require grass-roots support to this extent.

5.2. The Committee, bearing in mind the insufficient time for wide-ranging consultation and opinion forming to help build support in advance of the decisions, strongly recommends that the Gothenburg summit be followed by a systematic information and consultation effort in all member countries. In this effort, there would be possibilities for various organizations and the political parties to take part, and to channel views and comments from bottom-up.

5.3. This would have consequences for the decision-making process. The Gothenburg summit could focus on setting a number of fairly general objectives for the next 10-20 years, indicating how the Lisbon objectives should be adapted to the new strategy, and ask for further preparatory work to be postponed to the Barcelona summit in March 2002.

5.4. In this way, the summit in Gothenburg would invite citizens and organizations to take active part in the discussions up until the Barcelona summit, where more concrete decisions could be sufficiently prepared. Of course, the participatory work would have to continue afterwards also.

5.5. The Committee proposes: Make the issue of sustainable development a test case for new and wide participation in key Union policies!

6. Framework of an SDS decision

The upshot of the Commission analysis is that an SD strategy is not only necessary but urgently so if we are to change some trends that de facto pose a threat to our and our children's life potential.

The ESC strongly supports this conclusion. A process of change has to begin somewhere and sometime and now is in all probability the time to initiate it. There is a wealth of analysis on which to base decisions, a considerable potential of research and development and an economic situation in the Union better than for many years.

Moreover, large groups of society are seriously worried over basic issues of health and food, to mention just two aspects. There is thus a window of opportunity to generate wide public support for the beginning of a process of change in the direction of sustainable development.

6.1. Balancing the three pillars

6.1.1. The SD concept can be described as the Lisbon strategy (economic and social sustainability) with a third pillar, environmental sustainability, added. The SD strategy should emphasise the interrelationship between the three pillars. The SD strategy should combine a dynamic economy with a society offering opportunities to all, while improving resource efficiency and decoupling growth from environmental degradation.

6.1.2. The consultative paper has listed six areas of possible action. One area that is not expressly mentioned is employment, a key issue in the Lisbon strategy. Without high employment levels, economic and social sustainability will not be possible. Employment is both a means and an objective in itself. The Committee recommends that employment be added to the list, together with the issue of demography.

6.1.3. The social pillar should, moreover, include some other issues. Cohesion within the Union will depend not only on economic factors but also on cultural understanding and exchange. The European cultural inheritance is in fact an integral part of the European social model. A policy for sustainable development must take into account the need for higher awareness of inherited European cultural values in customs and patterns of behaviour.

6.1.4. The European social model is one in continuous development, as times and societies change. Sustainable development will add to this development, in particular on the need for solidarity between peoples and generations.

6.2. Lead themes

6.2.1. Because of its complexity, sustainable development is a phenomenon not easily described or identified. There is no doubt a need for some new catch-phrases when presenting it to the public opinion.

6.2.2. One such image could centre around responsibility: Europe should become the most responsible region in the world for environment and mankind.

6.2.3. Another could centre around the two generations, this and the next: Europe should shape the options for a good life also for the next generation, in terms of economic, social and environmental development.

6.2.4. The Committee emphasises the importance of the inter-generational element, particularly with regard to its appeal to large groups of citizens.

6.3. Relation of the SDS to other policy EU strategies and programmes

6.3.1. The strategy for sustainable development must emphasise the need for policy coherence between a number of EU strategies and programmes. These include the Luxembourg and Cardiff processes, the VIth Environmental Action Programme, the Broad Economic Guidelines, etc.

6.3.2. Success in co-ordinating and planning these as an integral part of the Sustainable Development Strategy requires constant monitoring. New horizontal structures at all levels of Government will be needed.

6.3.3. The consultative paper mentions that there are now approximately 60 relevant strategies and programmes at EU level. Apart from the obvious fact that strategies and programmes have been permitted to proliferate very generously, the key strategies inherent in an SDS already illustrate the absolute need for better policy coherence in setting objectives and in implementation.

6.3.4. The systematic use of a Sustainability Impact Assessment procedure before initiation of new programmes would also help.

6.3.5. This policy coherence must also include indicators for evaluation and follow-up. There will be a need for indicator coherence: viz. a limited number of indicators that are really vital for evaluation and follow-up of the SDS as a whole and the various integrated strategies. Seas of statistics of limited use are all too easy to create.

6.4. SDS and the stakeholders

6.4.1. The SDS will never be a successful part of the Lisbon strategy without active involvement by stakeholder organisations. This issue has recently been raised by a number of such organizations. The Committee supports their overall view that without active stakeholder support, the SDS will have considerable difficulties to take off.

6.4.2. Stakeholder involvement should include both implementation and follow-up, and revision of previous objectives and targets.

6.4.3. The definition of stakeholders must be very wide. Organized civil society thus has indeed a key role to play.

6.5. Vision and leadership

6.5.1. The consultative paper does not discuss issues of vision and leadership. It can be argued that an SD strategy will never be possible in practical terms without vision and leadership. Political parties, civil society organisations and governments will have to take the lead in the debate on possible visions. Even if the visions are supposed to be long-term (20-25 years), they should not go farther than over to the next generation. This is in fact a timespan that most adults find both natural and adequate.

6.5.2. The Lisbon European Council adopted the objective for the EU to be the most competitive and competent region in the world by 2010. This objective brought together a number of issues and values of high attraction: it included growth, employment and competitiveness objectives of a character similar to the Commission White Paper of 1993. The White Paper objectives were approved as both realistic and visionary.

6.6. Creating a knowledge society

6.6.1. A society profiled by policies for sustainable development is axiomatically a knowledge-intensive one. New advancements in transport and energy production require major new efforts in research and development. More efficient use of natural resources in production will add to the need for a higher knowledge component in products.

6.6.2. Human resources will be more important relative to financial and natural resources. The demand and need for higher investments in skilling and lifelong learning will be considerable. School systems will be required to take good care of every single child so as to avoid drop-outs, to add another aspect.

6.6.3. The Lisbon strategy has laid down a platform for building a European Knowledge Society. A strategy for sustainable development can only further underline the importance of this platform.

6.7. A changing working life

6.7.1. The transitions in industry and productive occupations will have to be matched by considerable and sustained investment in re-skilling and re-training of the workforce.

6.7.2. New and well functioning industrial relations will be a necessity in a working life profiled by high investments in training and research.

6.7.3. Quality of work will be a key topic, as stated already by the Stockholm summit.

6.7.4. Working life issues will also encompass working environment. The ICT sector is already revealing new forms of stress and burn-out. The knowledge-intensive working life will require new efforts for counteracting the potential negative effects. Trades Unions have a particular responsibility here.

6.7.5. In all these aspects, the objectives adumbrated in Lisbon can also integrate objectives and targets of a strategy for sustainable development.

6.7.6. The Lisbon strategy includes the objective of full employment. This objective has to fully supported within the SD strategy.

6.7.7. The ageing of the population and diminishment of both work force and population create another set of challenges. It is obvious and also consistent with the new Directive(2) against age discrimination that new incentives will have to be developed in order to motivate the older workforce to stay longer in active working life.

7. Priorities for an SDS for the European Union

7.1. The Committee has taken note of the final Strategy Proposal from the European Commission. Given the very short notice to examine in depth this important document the Committee limits itself in this Opinion to broad general comments on aims and procedures. It will subsequently state its views in the light of the Gothenburg conclusions.

7.2.1. First the Committee expresses its satisfaction that the strategy is concentrated and focused on a limited number of clearly unsustainable situations, that it clearly indicates this as the beginning of a long policy process and underlines the need for sufficient consultation at every step and for every action.

7.2.2. The Commission has set out in the proposal how the new SD Strategy can be integrated in the Lisbon strategy and be part of the same annual evaluation and follow-up. This is essential because of the need for policy coherence between economic, social and environmental issues.

7.2.3. The Commission rightly emphasises that the ultimate responsibility for the outcome of the work for a more sustainable society cannot be placed on only one or other group but must be shared collectively by all institutions and all citizens.

7.2.4. In a wider sense the Committee would have liked to see more emphasis on Research and Development; the new VIth Framework Programme should be closely targeted to the objectives of the SD Strategy.

7.3.1. As to the Gothenburg Summit the Committee would like to give some overall priorities for an SD strategy for the Union. For obvious reasons, these considerations build upon the Committee's earlier work.

7.3.2. Procedure: The Economic and Social Committee proposes that the Gothenburg summit focus on a limited number of more general objectives for sustainable development and calls on the Commission and other relevant bodies to present more concrete proposals to the Barcelona summit in March next year. This would make it possible to launch a broad consultation and participation process all over the Union, and create satisfactory support for the more concrete actions envisaged.

7.3.3. Time-span: the Committee proposes that the objectives of the SD strategy cover two time horizons, one medium-term (up to ten years), one long-term (20-25 years).

7.3.4. Measurement: the objectives chosen should be capable of definition in such a way that their implementation can be measured. Relevant indicators will have to be identified.

7.3.5. The SD strategy should be integrated into the Lisbon strategy and be part of the annual follow-up.

7.3.6. Sustainable Development objectives: The Committee finds it necessary that targets be set in the four areas of transport, energy production, agriculture, and climate change.

7.3.7. Level of concreteness: the Committee proposes that the decisions at Gothenburg do not go into too many details.

7.3.8. Climate change: The Committee strongly supports the Kyoto protocol and its implementation but at the same time points to the need for going further.

7.3.9. Ageing population: the ageing population presents a number of challenges to the SD strategy. It is a complex issue, including both longer working life and new efforts for elderly care in which member countries have much experience in common. The Gothenburg summit should set a deadline for the Commission to present a benchmark report up-dating best practice with a view to facilitating employment for older workers.

7.3.10. Low levels of fertility: the Commission has indicated, at earlier stages, that it would consider presenting some ideas for stimulating member countries to enact family support action intended to help parents combine children and career. The Committee would welcome an initiative from the Commission, and proposes that the Gothenburg summit includes this in its considerations.

7.3.11. Scientific networks: the strategy for sustainable development has to be vigorously supported also by the scientific community. Through networking between research institutes, the necessary critical mass of science resources can be marshalled. The Committee proposes that one or more scientific network coordinators be identified. One such coordinator could be the university institutions in Gothenburg itself, which already are establishing themselves as a network coordinator.

8. Enlargement and the SDS

8.1. The adoption of a strategy for sustainable development for the EU will have important consequences for the candidate countries. Although the SDS is not part of the acquis communautaire, it is expected that candidate countries become partners in the strategy as members of the Union. In a sense, this is not a new challenge. The countries have already taken part in the decisions at the Rio Conference, and its follow-up.

8.2. However, in its more concrete forms, the EU strategy for sustainable development will no doubt present new challenges and new strains on scarce financial resources. It will also require, among other things, new investment in human resources and in motivating citizens to change life and consumer patterns.

8.3. It would be wrong to underestimate the scope of the challenges that candidate countries may meet in the SD strategy. Any tradition of environmental protection is barely present there. The issues of unsustainable trends are not at the forefront of political debate.

8.4. The Committee proposes that the EU take special steps to enable candidate countries that so wish to be integrated in the SDS process at an early stage, that is even before they have become members of the Union.

8.5. The Committee proposes that earmarked financial resources be considered to assist the candidate countries to integrate fully into the SDS.

9. The role of the ESC in monitoring and follow-up of the SD strategy

9.1. Organized civil society should take active part in preparation, implementation and follow-up of the strategy for sustainable development. The Economic and Social Committee has a unique position among the European institutions, with its broad representativity of civil society.

9.2. The Committee proposes that its participation in support of the SD strategy be identified in three parts.

9.2.1. The Forum role: A successful implementation of the strategy requires good communication from and to the grass-roots level. ESC and its member organizations can play a crucial role here. In the Strategy Proposal the Commission declares its intention of holding a biennial Stakeholder Forum to assess the EU Strategy and invites the Committee to join it in organizing these events. The Committee welcomes the Commission's plan to hold such Hearings and declares its willingness to act as co-organiser.

9.2.2. The Mobilisation role: Closely connected to the Forum role, the ESC member organizations can act at national and local levels in order to raise awareness of the issues, inspire debate, channel opinions and act as communicators in a wide sense.

9.2.3. The quality Watch-dog role: The Commission will have the general responsibility for evaluation and follow-up of the SDS, including producing statistical base material. However, there will be a need for evaluation work also in other forms. The Committee is willing to take on a Watch-dog role vis-à-vis the SDS, focusing on quality assessments of the implementation work and possibly publishing an annual scoreboard. Such an exercise could feed in to the annual European summit follow-up of the full Lisbon and SD strategy.

Brussels, 31 May 2001.

The President

of the Economic and Social Committee

Göke Frerichs

(1) Commission Communication of 15th May for the Gothenburg European Council.

(2) Directive 2000/78/EC of 27.11.2000.