Putting the Focus on Attaining a Higher Quality of Life and Well-Being for All Citizens of Europe; Cynon Valley AM Christine Chapman Is the Welsh Assembly's Representative on the Committee of the Regions. Here She Argues That a New Social and Environmental Model for Europe Needs to Take Account of More Than GDP When Measuring Success: The Thursday Essay

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Byline: Christine Chapman

Today, as the representative of the Welsh Assembly on the Committee of the Regions , I will be making the case for a new economic, social and environmental model for Europe to replace the Lisbon Strategy.

The new model must start from the premise that we live on a finite planet, with limited resources, and that our economic activities must work within and respect these ecological constraints. I also argue that this model must possess a more people-oriented economic policy, and give greater recognition to the importance of social factors.

The Committee of the Regions, (CoR) established in 1994, is the political assembly that provides regional and local authorities with a voice in European Union policy development and legislation. The Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties oblige the European Commission and Council to consult the CoR (on which I have served since 2008) whenever new proposals are made that would affect the regional or local level.

At Lisbon in March 2000, a new European economic Strategy was launched by the heads of government and state that together make up the European Council. This "Lisbon Strategy" was indeed ambitious, and set a new goal of making the European Union the most dynamic and competitive economy in the world within the next 10 years. It would be knowledge-based, sustainable and would promote increased social cohesion.

The Strategy underwent subsequent modification. A greater focus on the environment was added in 2001, suggesting that economic growth must not be accompanied by unrestricted use of natural resources.

Mid-term reviews in 2005 concluded that growth and employment underpin social and environmental progress, which are in turn key elements in strengthening the economic performance of Europe.

The Strategy is due to be renewed in 2010, and this is a good opportunity to reflect on what we have done. More importantly, it gives us an opportunity to look to the future, and address the many urgent issues that must be reflected within the Strategy's successor. The world economy is suffering from a recession that is truly global in scale, and there is increasing worldwide concern about the consequences of environmental change.

It also allows us to consider the urgent action that is needed to tackle widening social divisions within Europe.

Even during periods when Europe was experiencing economic growth, it faced increasing levels of social exclusion and persistent problems with poverty. For example, the European Commission calculated in October 2008 that 16% of the European population were living below the poverty line.

It is against this background that I was invited to draft the paper that would outline the Committee of the Regions' position on the future of the Lisbon Strategy. …