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Political groups split over revised Lisbon strategy

There have been mixed reactions from the major political groups in the European Parliament to the revised Lisbon agenda presented by Commission President José Manuel Barroso on 2 February. The Parliament's second largest political party, the Socialist Group (PSE), attacked wh...

There have been mixed reactions from the major political groups in the European Parliament to the revised Lisbon agenda presented by Commission President José Manuel Barroso on 2 February. The Parliament's second largest political party, the Socialist Group (PSE), attacked what it described as a 'lack of balance' in the Commission's plans to relaunch the ailing strategy. Socialists accused Mr Barroso of stressing economic issues and structural reform at the expense of progressive social and environmental measures. Group vice-president Harlem Désir, a French MEP, said: 'Mr Barroso has lost the balance of the project - and as a result is endangering our goals. Strong policies on social and environmental issues must not be viewed as a part of Europe's competitiveness problem but as an essential part of its solution.' Another spokesperson for the Socialists said they would seek to restore balance to the proposals by insisting that measures be put forward by Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla to enhance the social element of the strategy. However, the Parliament's largest political body, the Group of the European People's Party (EPP), endorsed the Commission's plans and called on the Socialists to support them as well. EPP president Wilfried Martens said: 'I would [...] like to encourage the Party of European Socialists to abandon their expressed reservations and to help achieve our common European goals. If we all work together, Europe is destined to become an economic powerhouse with a unique social consciousness.' The leader of the Alliance of European Liberal Democrats, Graham Watson, also defended Mr Barroso's approach, describing his as a robust and focussed agenda. 'National governments must take responsibility and national parliaments must feel ownership of the Lisbon strategy, if we are to be able to fund our pensioners, create new jobs and clean up our environment,' Mr Watson added.