Economic Policy

Europe 2020

Europe 2020 - the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade - was adopted on June 17th 2010 by the European Council based on a proposal by the European Commission.

Communication from the Commission:
Europe 2020 - A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth

Council Conclusions:
Conclusions of the European Council 17 June 2010

Europe 2020 - the successor of the Lisbon Strategy - was set up to make Europe's economy smart, sustainable and inclusive. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.

  • Smart growth: education, research and innovation, digital society
  • Sustainable growth: more competitive low-carbon economy, protecting the environment, developing new green technologies, introducing efficient smart electricity grids, improving the business environment, helping consumers make well-informed choices
  • Inclusive growth: more and better jobs, especially for women, young people and older workers, investment in skills and training, ensuring the benefits of growth reach all parts of the EU

Five Headline Targets

To measure progress in meeting the Europe 2020 goals, 5 headline targets  have been agreed for the whole EU. These well defined targets were set up to contribute to the overall goad to make Europe's economy smart, sustainable and inclusive.

  1. Employment: 75 percent of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed
  2. R&D  and innovation:  3 percent of the EU's GDP (public and private combined) to be invested in R&D/innovation
  3. Climate change and energy: 
    • greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent (or even 30 percent, if the conditions are right) lower than 1990 
    • 20  percent of energy from renewables 
    • 20 percent increase in energy efficiency
  4. Education: 
    • Reducing school drop-out rates below 10 percent 
    • at least 40 percent of 30-34–year-olds completing third level education
  5. Poverty and social exclusion: at least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

Each Member State has adopted its own national targets in each of these areas to account for different starting points and reflecting different situations and circumstances. In Austria, the five national headline targets have been adopted on October 5th by the Council of Ministers.

  1. Employment: An employment rate of 77 to 78 percent is targeted for women and men in the age group of 20 to 64 years, the focus being mainly on a significantly higher employment rate among older employees, to be effected especially by raising the effective retirement age. Further attention is to be directed to the quality of the jobs, as well as to the employment of women and (juvenile) migrants.
  2. Research and Development: By the year 2020, the R&D rate is to be 3.76 percent of the GDP, with at least 66 percent, preferably 70 percent of the expenditures to be borne by the private sector.
  3. Climate protection and Energy:
    • 16 percent greenhouse gas reduction as compared to the 2005 level in the sectors not trading emissions
    • 34 percent share of the renewable energies in the energy gross final consumption
    • Stabilisation of the final energy consumption on the level of the base year 2005
  4. Education: The government aspires to lower, by 2020, the rate of drop-outs of pupils to 9.5 percent, and to raise the proportion of the 30 to 34 year-old university graduates or graduates from equivalent post-secondary institutions (ISCED 4a) to 38 percent.
  5. Reducing poverty and social exclusion: The national implementation up to the year 2020 aims at contributing to the EU target defined by the indicators risk of poverty, material deprivation, and jobless households for 235,000 persons.

National Reform Programme

The Integrated Guidelines, which consist of the guidelines for the economic and employment policies of the Member States and of the Union, are the basis for the National Reform Programmes and the country-specific recommendations that are being adopted by the European Council.

Guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and of the Union
Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States

In the National Reform Programmes the Member States report on their major bottlenecks and the ways chosen to overcome them in order to boost growth and employment. The timeline for the new reporting requirements is called "European Semester". The first National Reform Programme of Austria was adopted in April 2011, the second National Reform Programme in April 2012 and the third National Reform Programme in April 2013, the fourth National Reform Programme in April 2014 and the fifth National Reform Programme on the 21st of April 2015.

See all the documents including Annexes:

Country-specific recommendations

Based on the conclusions of the European Council, the European Commission issued country-specific recommendations thereby assessing the efforts described by the Member States in their National Reform Programs. Based on a proposal by the European Commission, the European Council adopted the country-specific recommendations. For Austria, the following recommendations have been agreed:

  1. Following the correction of the excessive deficit, reinforce the budgetary measures for 2014 in the light of the emerging gap of 0.5% of GDP based on the Commission 2014 spring forecast, pointing to a risk of significant deviation relative to the Stability and Growth Pact requirements. In 2015, significantly strengthen the budgetary strategy to ensure reaching the medium-term objective and remain at it thereafter, and ensure that the debt rule is met in order to keep the general government debt ratio on a sustained downward path. Further streamline fiscal relations between layers of government, for example by simplifying the organisational setting and aligning spending and funding responsibilities.
  2. Improve the long-term sustainability of the pension system, notably by bringing forward the harmonisation of the statutory retirement age for men and women and by linking the statutory retirement age to life expectancy. Monitor the implementation of recent reforms restricting access to early retirement. Further improve the cost effectiveness and sustainability of health care and long-term care services.
  3. Reduce the high tax wedge on labour for low-income earners by shifting taxation to sources less detrimental to growth, such as recurrent taxes on immovable property, including by updating the tax base. Reinforce measures to improve labour market prospects of people with a migrant background, women and older workers. This includes further improving child- and long-term care services and the recognition of migrants' qualifications. Improve educational outcomes in particular of young people with a migrant background, by enhancing early childhood education and reducing the negative effects of early tracking. Further improve strategic planning in higher education and enhance measures to reduce dropouts.
  4. Remove excessive barriers for services providers, including as regards legal form and shareholding requirements and with respect to setting up interdisciplinary services companies. Review whether restrictions on entry into and conduct in regulated professions are proportionate and justified by general interest. Identify the reasons behind the low value of public contracts open to procurement under EU legislation. Substantially strengthen the resources of the Federal Competition Authority.
  5. Continue to closely oversee and advance effectively the orderly restructuring of the nationalised and partly nationalised banks.

Next steps

After completing the European Semester, the next one starts with the Annual Growth Survey by the European Commission in November  with an assessment of the priorities for enhancing growth and job opportunities. The European Council will provide overall guidance for the strategy, on the basis of Commission proposals built on one core principle: a clear EU value added.

EU-Homepage Europe 2020:


Abteilung C1/1:

Last Modified: 27.04.2015 17:01