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Karl Aiginger, Kurt Kratena, Margit Schratzenstaller and Teresa Weiss, Moving Towards a New Growth Model, WWWforEurope Deliverable, April 2014

WWWforEurope First Feedback Conference Report: Moving Towards a New Growth Model

The analytical phase of WWWforEurope has been concluded last September and recently the results have been published in a report by Karl Aiginger, Kurt Kratena, Margit Schratzenstaller, and Teresa Weiss. As has been established by now, the basic question is how to reach a socio-ecological transformation of a dynamic European society building on smart, inclusive and sustainable growth.

WWWforEurope looks at this all-encompassing question from different viewpoints – the analysis and results therefore are diverse but each of them contributes to the central questions of the project.

Papers dealing with the economic and political challenges for welfare states show that future-oriented social policies will have to be about the removal of sources for inequality and about social investment. It is clear that there will have to be reforms and for this it is important to understand the sociological and psychological motives supporting or hindering reforms. This is a theme for which is also important to understand the propensity for innovation in different societies.

A completely different way of looking at the future is looking at resources and the apparent paradox between growth and resource scarcity. It should be clear that aiming for growth is risky from an environmental perspective but it is not impossible. But it is highly probable that growth in Europe will be on a rather low scale, especially when taking into account that poorer countries worldwide will also want a share of resources in their catching-up process. So growth as well as competitiveness should be interpreted in a more qualitative way: There have to be other goals besides increasing average income, namely a healthy environment, equality, life satisfaction. And it will be important to inform consumers, policy makers and other stakeholders which strategies they can follow to promote more sustainability.

The imperative for sustainability of growth calls for a completely new concept of competitiveness. The focus has to shift from productivity and cost to social inclusiveness and environmental outcomes. Innovation, research, industrial policy, entrepreneurship are important policy fields supporting this new multi-dimensional high road growth and it will be important to define sustainability issues in all of these fields. Governmental intervention is needed both where public benefits exceed private benefits (e.g. innovation, education, research) as well as where there are negative external effects (environment, energy). The good news is that there are promising new technologies promoting green growth – but these are still very expensive and need direct support.

An overarching issue presents itself in the quest for good governance and optimal institutional frameworks. All policies build on institutions, formal and informal ones. To find answers to the challenges of the future one has to take these institutions and their interactions into account. So, to truly succeed in the socio-ecological transition it is important to define an adequate governance structure and to convince the majority of stakeholders of its necessity. A first important step for this would be to refocus on the Europe 2020 strategy with its long-term ecological and social goals. But at the same time it will be vital to define an appropriate agenda of human investment and social cohesion. The EU has to play a pro-active, coordinative role to overcome the heterogeneity of its members.

This is only a very short summary of all the analytical work done so far. The next step will be to formulate policy conclusions. The work so far has shown a number of major tradeoffs but also a large number of synergies. It will not be possible to solve all of the conflicts and they should not be left unmentioned but the important contribution of the second phase of WWWforEurope will be to define those issues which most stakeholders find acceptable and especially to promote the synergies. For these, strategies and projects at EU as well as at regional level will have to be defined – a worthy, but very challenging task for the second half of the project.


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