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Minister Turk opens the annual Lisbon Council Summit: "Towards a more innovative, creative and active Europe"

With his opening address the Slovenian Minister for Growth, Dr Žiga Turk, today opened the annual Lisbon Council Summit, a Brussels-based think tank which has this year been devoted to risk management and European leadership issues within the Lisbon Strategy. In the week leading up to the spring European Council, when the new 2008–2010 Lisbon Strategy cycle will be launched, some 200 leading economists, strategists, media editors and journalists, leaders of non-governmental organisations and other opinion makers today convened for this Summit. The discussions focused in particular on challenges for the success of the new Lisbon Strategy cycle and the Strategy’s key role during that period. After the opening address given by the Slovenian Minister for Growth, the participants were also addressed by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Enrico Giovannini, Chief Statistician at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Michael Heise, Chief Economist of Allianz Group and Dresdner Bank, and others.

Minister Turk is the Slovenian national coordinator for the Lisbon Agenda, and during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union he will participate in the drafting of the spring European Council conclusions by which the new Lisbon Strategy cycle will be launched next week. In his opening address today, Minister Turk placed the launch of the new cycle among the world's trends, including among others also globalisation, the communication revolution which via modern electronic communications attracts an ever-wider circle of people to join creative processes, the third industrial revolution as the transition to a low-carbon economy, and the transition to the conceptual age.

Minister Turk pointed out that placing creativity side-by-side with innovation and knowledge is the manner in which the Lisbon Strategy responds to the challenges of the conceptual age. He stated: "Europe must take advantage of the information revolution in order to become more innovative and creative, so as to prepare for the conceptual age. It must become more active to co-create globalisation instead of only responding to its challenges, but at the same time it must be responsible for people and the environment. The latter requires the third industrial revolution, in which Europe must take the lead."

Dr Turk considers the improvement of communication infrastructure to be the key element bolstering innovativeness and education. "By 2010 every school in Europe should be provided with high-speed Internet access. The Internet should also be more accessible to citizens," he said. Minister Turk also outlined the importance of investing in infrastructure for research and development purposes, and the synergy between national and European programmes.   According to Turk, a balance between mechanisms for security and flexibility in the labour market should be found. With regard to the protection of the environment, the Slovenian Minister stressed that the urgency to reduce CO2 emissions would not only bring about costs but also business opportunities, and Europe could be the very first to take advantage of these opportunities.

Minister Turk concluded his address by highlighting the need for continuing the reform at the national level, noting that the Community Lisbon Programme presenting steps forward was aimed at this goal. However, in this context it is important to integrate every stakeholder, not only governments, but also social partners, regions and civil society.

"The Slovenian Presidency symbolises a new European era, during which Europe is becoming whole again. In the last twenty years Eastern European countries have faced profound changes and radical reforms, some of them have never even existed before. Today they can prove that changes are possible and that reforms can succeed. This is also their message to the old EU Member States," underlined Minister Turk at the end of his presentation.

The Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based think tank, was founded in 2003 with the purpose of co-creating strategies for managing the major economic and social challenges of Europe, such as globalisation and competitiveness. It is an independent non-profit organisation. Website and source for further information: The Lisbon Council external link


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Date: 04.03.2008