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From Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020: The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Discourse of Economic Reform

Scott James, Paul Copeland

This paper seeks to explore the profound impact of the global financial crisis on the EU's economic reformagenda. Specifically, the study examines the recent transition from the Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020 byaddressing three questions. How has the EU's discourse on economic reform shifted over recent years? To whatextent has the Lisbon Strategy's prevailing competitiveness narrative been challenged by the financial crisis? Inwhat way does Europe 2020 seek to reframe the terms of the economic reform debate? Drawing on discourseanalysis of documentary evidence and in-depth interviews with key policy makers in Brussels, the research aimsto shed new light on why the EU has sought to incorporate a range of new environmental and industrial policyobjectives, facilitate the integration of macroeconomic and fiscal policy goals, and replaced ambiguous referencesto the 'European social model' with a more detailed exposition of its 'social market economy'. It is thereforeintended to contribute to our understanding of how ideational and discursive frameworks are constructed andexploited by EU policy makers in order to shape the likelihood and nature of policy reform at the national level.

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