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Document 52001IE0727

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Broad Economic Policy Guidelines 2001"

OJ C 221, 7.8.2001, p. 177–184 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)


Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Broad Economic Policy Guidelines 2001"

Official Journal C 221 , 07/08/2001 P. 0177 - 0184

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Broad Economic Policy Guidelines 2001"

(2001/C 221/28)

On 28 February 2001, the Economic and Social Committee, acting under Rule 23(3) of its Rules of Procedure, decided to draw up an opinion on the "Broad Economic Policy Guidelines 2001".

The Economic and Social Committee decided to appoint Mr Simpson as rapporteur-general for this opinion.

At its 382nd plenary session (meeting of 31 May 2001), the Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 86 votes to one, with one abstention.

1. Introduction

1.1. The Economic and Social Committee welcomes this opportunity to assess and comment on the recently published draft Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPG)(1) for 2001 that will be considered by the European Council at its meeting in Göteborg on 15-16 June 2001.

1.2. This process of an annual review and further refinement of the BEPG has now assumed an important place in the co-ordination and management of economic policy within the European Union. The evolution of an overall strategy in which the Commission and the Governments of the Member States contribute, both to the debate and then accept the obligations of the agreed policies, represents a major strengthening of the effectiveness of the Union. This annual review also offers an important opportunity for the ESC to influence the decision-making processes affecting the European economy.

1.3. The publication of the Commission recommendations for the 2001 BEPG has coincided with the publication of the economic forecasts for 2001 prepared by the Commission. These forecasts confirm that the background to the preparation of the Guidelines is now less favourable than in 2000 due to adverse developments, and also that the less favourable conditions have evolved, in the main, outside the European Union.

1.3.1. To facilitate the effective consideration of the BEPG by the ESC and the other European institutions, as well as the Governments of the Member States, the economic forecasts should be published in advance of the publication of the BEPG.

1.3.2. In the course of the years 2001 and 2002, an historic and politically important event will occur: the introduction of the notes and coins of the Single Currency, in all twelve EMU Member States in January 2002. Whilst this practical step will itself have little direct impact on short-term economic trends, nevertheless it will give a major impetus to the development of the Single Market with its associated benefits for the Community and symbolises the greater cohesion and relevance of the BEPG for the people and Governments of the 12 Member States now making this change.

1.4. The ESC agrees with the main themes set out in the 2001 BEPG. In this Opinion, the Committee presents some of the issues that merit particular emphasis either to seek a strengthening of these policies or to encourage the Council to give a more operational context to the priorities, as was recommended by the ECOFIN Council on 12 March 2001.

2. The Broad Economic Policy Guidelines and the EU's economic policy goals

2.1. The Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPG) are central to the achievement of the Union's strategic goal for the next ten years: "to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion"(2). They are the major mechanism for the co-ordination and orientation of Member States economic policy under the Stability and Growth Pact and the Luxembourg, Cardiff and Cologne processes within the Lisbon framework.

2.2. The crucial objective is that the Broad Guidelines should offer a prospect of going beyond purely aspirational statements so that within the European Union there are plans and implementation strategies, both at a community level and in each Member State, to ensure that the goals can be achieved.

2.3. The overarching nature of the Broad Guidelines means that they encompass a wide range of analysis and policy considerations, both for the short and medium-term. This fourfold distinction provides the structure for this opinion which has sections on the EU economy in 2001 and in the medium term, and economic policy in 2001 and in the medium term. Given the breadth of issues in the BEPG this opinion will of necessity be selective. The Committee has decided to concentrate on the general guidelines for policy within the EU and not on the more detailed implications for individual Member States. However, the success or failure of the BEPG does depend on the actions within the Member States being consistent with the overall guidelines.

2.4. The Committee would, however, wish to state its agreement with the Commission when it suggests that the 2001 BEPG should identify and consider the appropriate policies on a limited number of central themes, including:

- ensuring growth- and stability-orientated macro-economic policies;

- improving the quality and sustainability of public finances;

- invigorating labour markets;

- efficient product (goods and services) markets;

- promoting the efficiency and integration of EU financial services markets;

- encouraging entrepreneurship;

- fostering the knowledge-based economy;

- enhancing environmental sustainability; and would further add, as a horizontal issue relevant to several of these themes;

- the need to monitor and respond to demographic change including that of an ageing population and the implications of falling birth rates.

3. The EU economy in 2001

3.1. The Committee has already commented on the excellent outcome for the economy of the European Union during the year 2000(3). EU GDP grew by 3,4 % and 2,6 million jobs were created. Particularly notable was the fact that the employment intensity of growth had increased, so that employment levels now seem more responsive to the expansion of GDP. Despite robust growth, inflation remained subdued at 2,1 %. Although above the ECB target this seems to have been a spike caused by oil price rises and the fall in the value of the Euro, thus underlying inflation, (excluding energy prices and unprocessed food) was 1,3 %. Internal inflationary pressure remained limited, with labour costs only growing by 2,3 %. Since labour productivity grew by 1,5 %, real unit labour costs thus declined by 0,4 %(4).

3.2. Despite this good progress in 2000 some problems continued. Unemployment remains high at 8,2 % of the labour force, which means that 14,5 million people in the EU are still seeking a job. Towards the end of the year 2000 there were signs that the fall in the external value of the Euro had been halted but most of the gains have since unwound. It seems likely at some stage there will be a rebound in the value of the Euro which would be a further factor ameliorating any inflationary pressure in the Union. Thus, most of the easing of the monetary conditions index for the euro area is the result of the fall in the euro exchange rate. A euro rising too quickly would lead to a tightening of monetary conditions.

3.3. The 2001 BEPGs will have a less favourable economic environment within which to work, the growth of the EU GDP started to slow in the second quarter of 2000. The world economic situation has also deteriorated, with the dramatic slow-down in the expansion of the US economy, further weakening in economic conditions in Japan and continued high oil prices. The Commission remains relatively optimistic for the EU with forecast growth of 2,8 % in 2001 and 2,9 % in 2002. This optimism is based on the limited impact of the world economy on the EU because of the relatively small external trade sector and the continued robust domestic demand. However, even if these growth rates were achieved, they fall below the ambition of an expansion rate of 3 % or more.

3.4. The Committee considers that the Commission forecasts are themselves optimistic. The Committee believes that further EU and national measures will have to be taken if the growth necessary to maintain a significant reduction in unemployment is to continue. In addition, the Commission and the Member States need to adopt a more determined and consistent approach to ensuring the verifiable implementation of the growth and employment promoting measures adopted by the Council.

3.5. Impressive strides have been taken in fiscal consolidation so that in contrast to the situation of a few years ago many Member States have budgets close to balance or in surplus. There is, however, some indication of a lessening of resolve because although the overall budget deficit is still falling cyclically corrected budget deficits are predicted to rise in 2001(5). This situation calls for careful monitoring because several Member States are committed to programmes to make tax systems more efficient and employment friendly. These developments are to be welcomed but reductions in marginal tax rates may reduce revenue, further increasing public sector deficits or reducing any surplus.

4. The EU Economy in the medium term

4.1. The large imbalances in international payments that have built up during America's long economic boom and the continuing problems in Japan mean that in the medium term the international economic environment is likely to remain less supportive of growth in the EU. This could lead to a recovery in the external value of the Euro that would reduce inflation in the euro-area and have a dampening effect on export growth and would thus require a further easing of internal monetary conditions.

4.2. One of the motivations for the development of EMU was to give the EU the ability to act independently in economic policy. Consequently, a more difficult external environment should be seen as a challenge for European policy makers to ensure that the EU economy is able to continue stable growth.

4.3. With the exception of the less favourable external environment, the challenges facing the EU in the medium term have remained essentially the same as those considered in the 2000 BEPG: (1) return to full employment (2) the development of a more dynamic knowledge-based economy (3) improving public finances whilst anticipating demographic trends including preparing for the extra costs of an ageing population (4) the improvement of social cohesion in the Union and (5) enhancing environmental sustainability. Since these are medium term objectives it is inevitable that the scope for improvement from year to year will be limited. The route to the achievement of these goals is seen to be through a stable macroeconomic framework and the creation of a more competitive and flexible EU internal market by: invigorating the labour market; product and service (particularly financial services) market reforms; and in stimulating entrepreneurship, R& D, innovation and improving the skills and qualifications of the workforce.

4.4. Productivity needs to be raised so as to improve living standards and employment; this is to be accomplished by the creation of a knowledge based economy. In view of the recent developments in the USA, estimates of the impact of the e-economy on productivity in the long term may have to be revised. Rapid rates of productivity growth in the US may have been associated with levels of investment and demand during an unsustainable boom.

4.5. Productivity should also be viewed in the wider context where part of the difference in GDP per person employed between the EU and the US is the result of the longer hours worked in the US. Whilst raising productivity is desirable, doing this by raising the number of hours worked would not be attractive.

5. Economic Policy in 2001

5.1. Although the external environment has changed, the mechanisms to achieve growth and stability remain the same. The European Central Bank (ECB) bears the primary responsibility for discretionary short-term macroeconomic policy adjustment(6). The BEPG provides the fiscal policy framework within which the ECB sets interest rates. Experience with the operation of fiscal policy has led to general acceptance that it is undesirable to make discretionary changes for macroeconomic stabilisation. Policy is oriented towards the medium term balance or surplus but in the short term the aggregate fiscal stance will be determined by the operation of automatic fiscal stabilisers. For this system to operate successfully it is important that the ECB makes timely adjustments to interest rates and that Member States fiscal positions are such that automatic stabilisers can be allowed to function freely.

5.2. With the increasingly unfavourable outlook for the world economy the Committee had a concern that interest rates had not been reduced by the ECB to meet the potential threat of a downturn in the EU. The Committee welcomes the recent decision by the ECB to reduce interest rates by 0,25 percentage points. Given the uncertainty of the current economic developments, the Committee expects the ECB to maintain a flexible approach to the setting of interest rates if the economic outlook deteriorates further.

5.3. There are two aspects of the role of the ECB that cause the Committee some concern.

5.4. First, and on an interpretative issue, the explanation by the Bank of its decisions on interest rate policy has continued to refer to the need, primarily, to maintain price stability by a process of continuous monitoring of inflationary trends. On the evidence already quoted in this opinion, underlying inflation in Euroland in 2000 was 2,1 % (1,3 % excluding energy prices). The concern of the Committee is that inflation forecasts made in the Bank have been too high.

5.5. Second, there remains a critical issue in the regulatory provisions of the ECB. The setting of the maintaining price stability as the primary objective of the Bank is not, in itself, questionable but the Committee believes that the Bank should take a wider view of economic prospects and the balance of monetary interests when determining its attitude to monetary variables, particularly interest rates.

5.6. Consolidation of the fiscal position of the Member States continued in 2000 but this was as a result of the effect of rapid growth and the fall in unemployment on revenue and expenditure. On a cyclically corrected basis public sector deficits on average were unchanged. The continued improvement in public finances projected in the stability and convergence programmes is predicated upon the continuance of relatively rapid growth in economic activity. This slight easing of the fiscal stance predicted for this year is perhaps fortuitously appropriate because of the likely slow-down in economic activity. It should not, however, be pursued further because in the event of a more severe downturn some Member States could come close to a position of excessive deficit. In the event of such a downturn actual (not cyclically corrected) deficits would expand with lower tax revenues and higher expenditure on social security benefits acting to counteract the downturn. (i.e. as an automatic stabiliser).

5.7. During the last year the Commission and the Council have critically evaluated the fiscal stance in each Member State. This is a necessary part of the monitoring of the discipline of the stability and growth conditions. However, the ESC believes that with the benefit of recent experience, the rationale of the assessment of whether these policies are unjustifiably pro-cyclical might now be reviewed to make such judgements in a wider setting.

5.8. The Committee notes with satisfaction that in 2001, as in 2000, nominal wage increases have been and are expected to remain consistent with price stability and job creation and in line with developments in productivity and thus have supported the overall macroeconomic policy.

5.9. Whilst for the euro area it is necessary to ensure that overall real wage increases do not exceed productivity growth(7), this is not the case for individual countries. Average wage increases can exceed average productivity growth in areas with below average income levels, provided that the wage growth does not exceed productivity growth in industries subject to international competition. But more importantly, wage increases above productivity changes can be an important part of the adjustment between countries in a monetary union. Thus, whilst a country with low growth and high unemployment may have wage increases below productivity to restore competitiveness, a country with high growth and low unemployment may adjust by reducing competitiveness in part through wage increases in excess of productivity. The ease of adjustment for an uncompetitive country in a monetary union will be facilitated by more competitive countries losing some of their cost advantage as a result of differential rates of domestic inflation.

5.10. In aggregate, of course, the euro zone overall wage and price increases should not be, and need not be, inflationary.

6. Economic Policy in the medium term

6.1. Short term monetary policy, determined by the ECB, and fiscal policy within the BEPGs, modified by the external economic conditions, are the key influences within the remit of the official institutions that can cause changes in the macroeconomic environment for the medium term. Economic policy in the medium term is therefore concerned with measures to try to improve the EU economy's growth potential. This potentially encompasses all aspects of economic activity but the following are particularly important:

1. invigorating labour markets;

2. ensuring efficient product (goods and services) markets;

3. promote the efficiency and integration of EU financial services markets;

4. fostering the knowledge-based economy;

5. encouraging entrepreneurship;

6. enhancing environmental sustainability;

7. improving the quality and sustainability of public finances;

8. monitoring and responding to demographic trends, including making preparation for an ageing population.

6.2. Invigorating labour markets

6.2.1. Despite continuing high levels of unemployment there are indications of labour shortages in some regions and sectors. In addition to unemployment there are also high levels of inactivity among certain groups of workers particularly women and older workers. Higher economic growth is vital to the achievement of higher employment levels and to reduce the burden of an ageing population. The Committee welcomes the decision of the Stockholm summit(8) to set intermediate targets for employment for 2005 of 67 % overall, 57 % for women and 50 % for the 55-64 age group.

6.2.2. The current tax and benefit systems must be reformed to secure effective benefit systems for current and future generations and to offer incentives to increase employment. The Committee has already considered these issues in relation to the European Employment Strategy(9) and Member States' employment policies(10), suggesting that the tax and benefit systems need to be reformed to provide incentives for the low paid, older workers, women to seek employment and to integrate vulnerable groups into the labour market.

6.2.3. In an earlier opinion(11) the Committee emphasised the problems of trying to increase the employment of older workers. It is particularly important to change attitudes and the policy must be forward-looking involving all workers with measures to encourage life long learning and adaptability and to encourage employers to offer flexibility in working arrangements. This should include measures to enhance the health and safety of all employees in the work place.

6.2.4. The Committee welcomes measures to promote labour market participation, to encourage education and training, and to encourage capital and labour mobility. The Committee is concerned however whether even the currently rather slow rate of progress to fulfil these objectives can be maintained in the potentially more difficult economic circumstances that the Union faces in the near future.

6.2.5. The Committee particularly notes the acknowledgement of key skills shortages affecting the labour market. There had been an expectation, based on a conclusion reached at the Stockholm European Council(12) for the creation, by the Commission, of a high level taskforce on mobility and skills with the challenge to present an Action Plan to the Economic Council in the Spring of 2002. The Committee regrets that this proposal has not been included in the 2001 BEPG.

6.3. Ensuring efficient product (goods and services) markets

6.3.1. A long standing EU policy central to raising efficiency is the completion of the Single Market. The fact that it has still not been realised is due to the ambitious nature of the objective, its expanding scope over time and some reluctance on the part of national governments to fully embrace the project. Particular problems remain in the liberalisation of network industries (telecommunications, energy), transport, financial services, public procurement, establishing a Community patent, competition and state aids. Generally progress has been limited in all these areas since Lisbon but only the more important policies can be considered here.

6.3.2. Telecommunications are central to the emerging knowledge economy and liberalisation is necessary to reduce prices and to encourage investment and innovation. The progress of further liberalisation measures contained in the proposal for the "Single Communication's Market" is seen by Commission as essential for the establishment of the knowledge-based economy. Unfortunately the inability of the Council(13) to meet the Stockholm summits call for the telecommunications package to be "adopted as soon as possible this year in order to offer the sector a level playing field ... across the Union" is a worrying development. Similar problems are also apparent in the European Energy and European Sky initiatives The Committee regrets the slow rate of progress in these industries particularly as they are interdependent with the development of the knowledge-based economy to which the European Council is committed.

6.3.3. The Committee also strongly endorses the call on Member States to cut the deficits in the transposition of internal market measures and to reduce the incidence of state aid where this can increase fair competition in the Single Market.

6.4. Promote the efficiency and integration of EU financial services markets

6.4.1. The establishment of a European financial market is another essential element for enhancing competitiveness. Besides being an important industry in its own right, efficient financial markets are vital to encourage investment and the integration of financial markets provides an important means of adjustment within monetary unions. The holdings of assets and the provision of loans across borders provide an important mechanism for stabilising incomes in response to shocks. Here again the Member States' practical commitment to reform has been less than wholehearted. The compromise agreement reached on the Lamfalussy proposals at Stockholm could make the regulation of financial services more cumbersome.

6.5. Fostering the knowledge-based economy

6.5.1. The encouragement and enhancement of a knowledge-based society and economy is now a vital process. Important elements in its realisation include: the size and effectiveness of R& D, the use of new technologies particularly the Internet, and education and training of the workforce to use the new technologies. The Committee has already considered some of the issues involved in the knowledge economy in its report on the Lisbon European Council(14) and more particularly the employment implications(15). These opinions emphasise the rapid development and all pervasive nature of the knowledge society and thus its profound effects on the economy and society. This means that the use of new technology is a basic skill needed by everybody, and this has to be reflected in education and training at all levels. It also means even greater emphasis on R& D and innovation, as well as entrepreneurship.

6.5.2. The Committee, therefore, welcomes the proposals to stimulate R& D, strengthen the legal framework for intellectual property, implement the e-Europe action plan and improve ICT skills at advanced and basic levels. The chequered development of the EU patent again points to the gap between rhetoric and achievements in this area. There is also room for improvement in the targeting and operation of the EU's research programmes.

6.5.3. Investment both public and private is crucial to the development of a knowledge-based economy. In its report on the 2000 guidelines(16) the Committee noted that investment as a proportion of GDP had fallen significantly since the early 1970s. The absence of new initiatives to stimulate private investment is of concern since existing policies have failed to boost the investment rate in the EU. The Committee remains concerned that public investment, which has been severely constrained during the process of fiscal consolidation, should be restored as a vital contribution for the development of the necessary infrastructure and skills. In support of this argument, the Committee endorses the Commission recommendation that Member States should redirect public expenditure towards human and physical capital accumulation.

6.6. Encouraging entrepreneurship

6.6.1. One element Europe lacks for a truly dynamic economy is sufficient entrepreneurial activity. There was some upturn in activity during the boom in 1999 and 2000 but this has since waned. The Commission's failure to produce an effective report on reducing start-up costs for business is indicative of slow progress in this area. Provision of venture capital is vital for enhanced entrepreneurial activity and this is another area where the development of a single financial market is essential. The regulatory environment in most European countries is also a problem for the dynamism of the EU economy, although there are some small signs of change such as the development of Societas Europaea, often known as the European Company Statute.

6.7. Enhancing environmental sustainability

6.7.1. The Committee acknowledges that sustainability is a horizontal issue that should inform EU policies generally but this is the subject of a separate opinion. Only the environmental aspects are mentioned in this opinion. The Committee welcomes the proposal that Member States should introduce and strengthen the market based approach to environmental issues. Permanent increases in fuel costs should be incorporated in prices to achieve the necessary market adjustments in use. The different responses to fuel price changes highlights the problem caused by the failure to agree on a framework for energy taxation at the Community level. Where increased energy prices have very adverse social implications for some sections of the population, then the scope for finely targeted compensation, within the constraints of the other EU policies, should be examined by Member States.

6.8. Improving the quality and sustainability of public finances

6.8.1. The short term features of the management of public sector finances are discussed, briefly, in paragraph 5.6. The Committee acknowledges that the rules developed as an integral part of the new framework have brought a useful discipline to the Member States of the Union.

6.8.2. There are, however, two aspects of policy relating to the management of public sector finances that merit further refinement. First, the longer term management of public sector finances must take explicit account of the probable budgetary consequences of demographic change. This will impact on aspects of pensions planning, health care and community services. The Committee commend this as a specific problem to be tackled with greater urgency. Second, the BEPG endorse efforts to further reduce the level of public sector debt outstanding in Member States. Whilst the benefits of lower debt re-payments are acknowledged. There is now a possible need to consider a refinement of the rules. Some public sector borrowing is incurred for actions that directly contribute to economic growth and compare, logically, with investment decisions made by private firms. Other borrowing may simply be a substitute for what might be taxation. The Committee suggest that public sector debt management policies should be reviewed to allow a more flexible approach.

6.9. Monitoring and responding to demographic trends, including making preparation for an ageing population

6.9.1. The European Union faces an ageing population as a result of increased longevity and lower birth rates. Any approach to the problem of an ageing population must target both of these elements as well as considering the implications for immigration policies. An ageing population will put pressure on public finances through increased spending on pensions and also as a result of greater demands on health and social services, and hence affecting taxation.

6.9.2. Preparations for an ageing population are basically of three kinds: firstly seeking to ensure a high employment rate within Europe, secondly the reform of pension systems and thirdly ensuring the sustainability of public finances. The issue of employment rates has already been the subject of section 6.2 in this report so no further consideration is necessary here. Progress in pension reform has been patchy, the Committee is well aware of the problems and would endorse the need to build consensus among the social partners for reforms, but this should not be used to delay the process. Delay merely makes the problem more severe and more difficult to resolve.

6.9.3. The Committee notes with concern the trend towards limiting entitlements to state pensions, which is for many people the main source of post-retirement income. Failure to reform pensions policies adds to the difficulties of ensuring sustainability of public finances already noted in Section 4.3. The Committee acknowledge that satisfactory solutions may need actions related to occupational and private pensions as well as state pension schemes.

7. Conclusion

7.1. The Committee welcomes the new 2001 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines and the general thrust of the strategy to make the Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world. These aspirations must be converted into real achievements.

7.2. The Commission assessment for the economy of a slight slow-down in the rate of economic growth is, in the view of the Committee, over-optimistic. Rapid action may be necessary to offset any sudden worsening of the external economic environment's potential impact on the EU. Given this change in the balance of risks it is important that the ECB should maintain a flexible approach to the setting of interest rates, as one flexible element of the policy mix in the EMU.

7.3. The Committee is also concerned that the Council's rhetoric on structural reform and the development of the knowledge-based economy should be matched by commensurate policy actions. Thus the slow pace and limited reforms agreed in such areas as telecommunications, the Community patent, and financial services give cause for concern over the Union's ability to meet its ambitious targets.

7.4. These problems of turning words into action also exist at the national level with the very uneven progress of tax, social security and pension reform.

7.5. Whilst the Committee support the goal of ensuring the sustainability of public finances, this should not be at the expense of public investment that is essential for the infrastructure and human capital required for a knowledge-based society. It is also essential that companies, as well as Governments, should continue to invest in the education and training of their workforce and this should also be encouraged by European Union and national policies.

7.6. Without a more dynamic process of implementing the policies of the 2001 BEPG, the risks are that the overall objective of being the most dynamic knowledge-based economy will not be achieved. In turn, this would adversely affect progress to the employment targets and the ability to cope with the demographic challenges ahead.

7.7. The Committee, therefore, commends the 2001 BEPG for early and effective implementation.

Brussels, 31 May 2001.

The President

of the Economic and Social Committee

Göke Frerichs

(1) Commission recommendations for the 2001 Broad Guidelines of the Economic Policies of the Member States and the Community; ECFIN/228/01 25 April 2001.

(2) Presidency Conclusions, Lisbon European Council, 23-24 March, paragraph 5.

(3) ESC Opinion on the 2000 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines OJ C 139, 11.5.2001.

(4) Report from the Commission on the implementation of the 2000 BEPG, 7.3.2001, COM(2001) 105, p. 7 and 37.

(5) European Commission recommendation for the 2001 Broad Guidelines on economic policies, COM(2001) 224, p. 9.

(6) ESC opinion on Coordination of economic policies as a consequence of EMU OJ C 139, 11.5.2001.

(7) 2001 BEPGs p. 10.

(8) Presidency Conclusions, Stockholm European Council, 24 March 2001, paragraph 9.

(9) The Mid-term review of the three processes that underpin the European Employment Strategy (OJ C 139, 11.5.2001).

(10) Proposal for a Council Decision on guidelines for Member States' employment policies for the year 2001 (OJ C 14, 16.1.2001).

(11) OJ C 14, 16.1.2001.

(12) Presidency Conclusions, Stockholm European Council, 24 March 2001, paragraph 15.

(13) Council of the EU, Transport and Telecommunications, 2340th Council meeting Luxembourg, 4-5 April, 2001, 587/01 (Presse 131).

(14) ESC Opinion on "Employment, economic reform and social cohesion - Towards a Europe of innovation and knowledge" (OJ C 117, 26.4.2000).

(15) ESC Opinion on "New knowledge, new jobs" (OJ C 14, 16.1.2001).

(16) ESC Opinion on the 2000 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (OJ C 139, 11.5.2001).