Richard North, 10/03/2005  

Confirming the EU leaders – whatever they are – are locked in a time warp, a "provocative study" on the EU’s economy – whatever that is – shows that the EU is today where the US economy was in the late 1970s.

The employment rate of just over 64 per cent attained by the EU in 2003 was achieved in the US in 1978, research and development spending in the EU matches the US level in 1979 and the EU’s GDP per worker was achieved in the US in 1989.

The study, presented by Eurochambres, the pan-European business organisation, demonstrates quite how far the "Lisbon agenda" has gone adrift and how hopelessly unrealistic was the idea of making Europe "the world's most competitive economy by 2010". (Do pay attention and try to stop giggling.)

And while the European Council is set to "relaunch" the Lisbon agenda later this month, the Eurochambres suggests that it will take the EU until 2056 to reach current US productivity rates and then only if EU productivity growth exceeds that of the US by 0.5 per cent per year.

Given the overall sluggish rate of growth in the EU-25, any such ambition lies in the realms of fantasy. If anything, "Europe" is going backwards.

But hey, at least that is progress… even if it is in the wrong direction.

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