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Prospects for the Lisbon Strategy, How to increase the competitiveness of the European economy?

Funded under: FP6-SME


The main message of this contribution is that lean times are here to stay for the old member states. The principal reasons are deep seated: Deteriorating demographics continue with the ratio of working age population to total population falling. There are thus fewer and fewer producers for every consumer and recipient of transfers. On top of this, productivity growth is declining as labour quality is falling and investment growth is slowing. In the new member countries the demographic trends are also unfavourable, but they are (more than) compensated for by catch-up growth as a relatively well educated work force finds its place in the internal market. What does this diagnosis imply for the role of structural policies? No Lisbon agenda can change demographic trends, nor can it change the declining capital/labour ratio due to insufficient investment growth. But structural reforms might counteract the impact of these two negative trends. Moreover, the performance gap between big and small member countries suggests that policy can make a difference.

Additional information

Authors: Daniel Gros, Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels (BE)
Bibliographic Reference: Brussels, Centre for European Policy Studies, 2005, 20 pp, free of charge
Availability: The document can be downloaded from the Centre for European Policy Studies website, URL:
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