April 2015.- EU economies face challenges generated by social change, globalisation and global trade, the evolution of productivity, pressure on resources, and environmental issues.
Europe 2020 Strategy is a response to this long-term challenges and has established targets to achieve by 2020 in the fields of employment, research and development, climate change and energy, education, and combating poverty and social exclusion.
In this framework, ECAT 2020 is the Catalonia 2020 Strategy. Approved in April 2012, ECAT 2020 identifies the priority areas of action to ensure that public policies in Catalonia help to achieve the targets and priorities established by Europe 2020. These priority areas are:
- employment and training,
- social cohesion,
- green economy,
- innovation and knowledge,
- entrepreneurism and
ECAT 2020 also establishes the guidelines for implementing public policies that can promote competitiveness and employment and generate the necessary climate of confidence to improve the current economic situation and build a smart, sustainable, inclusive model for economic growth.
A report on the first three years (2012-2014) of the Catalonia 2020 Strategy has been recently launched. The report analyses the application of this European Strategy in Catalonia, the ECAT 2020, and includes an analysis of trends in the Catalan economy, including both general evolution and the priority areas established by ECAT 2020, with comparison to both the EU and Spain as a whole.
Four main lines of action
Within the framework of ECAT 2020 to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the Catalan Government focuses on four main lines of action:
- The Research and Innovation Strategy for the Smart Specialisation of Catalonia (RIS3CAT).RIS3CAT defines a shared vision of Catalonia in 2020 and establishes four major strategic objectives: strengthening the competitiveness of the business ecosystem, boosting new emerging economic activities with research, creativity and innovation, consolidating Catalonia as a European hub of knowledge and globally improve the Catalan innovation system.
- Strategic planning for European funds. Over the 2014-2020 period, the European Commission requires States and regions to make changes in the way that they prioritise and manage cohesion policy funds. The Catalan Government has made a clear commitment to knowledge, innovation, training, efficient use of resources and internationalisation as drivers of competitiveness in the production system and to promote job creation and social cohesion. This commitment finds its expression in strategic, coordinated planning of European funds over the 2014-2020 period. Through the Youth Employment Initiative, will focus particularly on young people, amongst whom the unemployment rate stood at 50.7% in 2013.
- Adapting sectorial plans and measures to Europe 2020 priorities. The Government has adapted sectoral policies to the new requirements. It has established strategies, plans and actions aimed at 2020 in all the ECAT 2020 priority areas: employment and training, social cohesion, innovation and knowledge, entrepreneurism, internationalisation and the green economy.
- Permanent social dialogue. Catalonia has a long tradition of social dialogue. In the last ten years, social dialogue has led to the signing of agreements for competitiveness and job creation between the Catalan Government and economic and social stakeholders. Recent outstanding initiatives to build a sustainable and inclusive model for economic growth include the Agreement for Permanent Social Dialogue, established between the Government and social and economic stakeholders and signed in March 2014, and the Pact for the Fight against Poverty.
Uneven progress, 2012-2014
Progress towards meeting the 2020 targets has been highly uneven in recent years
Catalonia is a competitive economy: GDP per inhabitant is significantly higher than the EU average and, despite the economic crisis, exports and direct foreign investment have continued to evolve positively. However, Catalonia is below the EU average as regards the 2020 indicators on employment rates, early school leaving, poverty, R&D investment, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and renewable energy.
The report identifies two factors that have limited the progress towards achieving the objectives: the world economic crisis that has seriously affected Catalan economy, and the recentralising decisions taken by the Spanish Government, that have decreased the Catalan Government’s capacity to adopt policies and measures aimed at meeting the 2020 targets.