In March 2000, the Lisbon European Council agreed upon a new strategic goal for the European Union: 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.” One decade and the sobering experience of a global economic crisis later, the European Commission's new 2020 Strategy sets out a vision of Europe's social market economy for the 21st century that “shows how the EU can emerge stronger from the economic crisis and how it can be turned into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.” If somewhat more modest in its targets, Europe 2020 reiterates the guiding ambition to enhance the EU's economic performance in the internal and global market that already dominated the Lisbon strategy. The lesson learned from Europe's “lost decade” is that the EU needs to replace the “slow and largely uncoordinated pace of reforms” with a “sustainable recovery” in order to regain its competitiveness, boost its productivity, and put it on “an upward path of prosperity.” This is, then, the EU's first “Lisbon” agenda that heavily relies on the internal market and that depicts social inclusion and political stability as conditioned upon further European economic integration. The recipe to defy what has grown from a “merely” economic crisis into a social and political crisis of the Union and its Member States is a combination of “smart,” “sustainable,” and “inclusive” growth.

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