At-a-glance guide to the key battles

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Series Details Vol 7, No.12, 22.3.01, p7
Publication Date 22/03/2001
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Date: 22/03/01

Social affairs: Europe's leaders put full employment firmly in their sights at Lisbon; a key question at Stockholm will be whether they want to go in for some target practice first.

Social Affairs chief Anna Diamantopoulou wants member states to set national and interim jobs targets to boost the Commission's goal of a 70% EU-wide employment rate by 2010.

A compromise of 67% employment across the bloc by 2005, without individual national goals, is the more likely outcome.

The EU's leaders will, however, approve the creation of a high-level skills and mobility task forc which will report at the end of the year - hardly giving the Swedish much instant glory.

The Swedish presidency will get to make a fuss about its 'key indicators' designed to show each country's success in a range of fields, from level of Internet access to number of jobless households.

Electricity liberalisation: Sweden is one of just four EU countries to have fully opened their energy markets and will push hard for progress, with support from Germany, Finland and the UK.

But a deal on Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio's proposals for full market opening by 2005 is unlikely, given France's resistance to the plan (see main story, right).

Single market: Top of the agenda is the proposed reform to securities markets tabled by Baron Alexandre Lamfalussy which aims to pave the way towards uniform EU-wide rules by the end of 2003.

In a bid to smooth the way, finance ministers will meet tonight (22 March) to iron-out potential problems with the blueprint.

Commission President Romano Prodi hopes to win support for fewer restrictions on cross-border services, approval for plans to liberalise postal markets and a promise to step up overdue reforms of EU patent law.

Single sky: Broad support for a centralised air traffic control system - the 'single European sky' - could have made it one of Stockholm's crowning glories. But it now looks likely to be one of the summit's flops after the ongoing squabble between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar's airport forced transport chief de Palacio to postpone the plan earlier this month.

Preview of the European Council, Stockholm, 23-24.3.01.

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