As usual, national implementation of EU-suggested actions lag behins in severla countries. This time, the action related to the national implementation plans on advancing the EU's Lisbon reform agenda. One reaon for the delay is doubts about the usefulness of the excercise.
Earlier this year, in March 2005, the Spring Council discussed the Commission's mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy to make the EU "the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010". As we have reported earlier, member states decided to relaunch the Lisbon strategy by focussing it on growth and employment, something that caused widespread concerns in the Adult Education communities. More to the point, the member states formally committed to taking national ownership by drawing up national action plans (NAPs) for reform and handing them in to the Commission by 15 October 2005.
This has yet to be followed up at national level by adult education organisations. As with the lobby work on national levels prior to the elections to the European Parliament this is crucial when trying to advocate for the need and use of adult eduation. The risk reminas that the new focus together with NAPs focused on job growth will miss the mark, and forget earlier commitments on strenghtening the role of civil society and education.
In June 2005, the European Council adopted integrated economic and employment guidelines. It was agreed that these guidelines should form the basis of the national action plans.
With their focus on macroeconomic policy (fiscal discipline and growth-oriented spending), microeconomic reforms (internal market, entrepreneurship, R&D spending) and employment (labour market improvements, education, and modernising social protection systems) it is clear that education is being overlooked.
Once the NAPs have been approved (with or without delays) and submitted to the Commission, they will be assessed. An Annual Progress Report will be set up, starting in January 2006. Governments are expected to report on the implementation of their NAPs by October 2006.
The focus must remain on the content of these NAPs, as we have reported earlier some om them are very hastily put together, more to fulfill the requirements, than to offer anything substancially new. This would indicate that AE organisations might still have a task in improving these plans, and help focus them on central issues, rather than offering a variety of status reports and vague wording. If the NAPs are to be any useful, they need to be rather concrete.