Among accession countries, Croatia and Turkey are closer to meeting the goals than Bulgaria and Romania

Geneva, Switzerland, 13 December 2006 - Denmark is the most competitive economy as measured by the European Union's own Lisbon criteria, followed by Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany, according to the Lisbon Review 2006 released today.

The review is the third in a biennial series that assesses the progress made by the EU member countries in the far-reaching goals of the EU's Lisbon Strategy of economic and structural reforms, the last of which was published in 2004. In addition to assessing the performance of the 25 existing EU members, it also measures the competitive performance of the countries on the waiting list to join in coming years.

“In 2000, the EU set itself ambitious action and development plan with the Lisbon Agenda. With the Lisbon Review, we aim to measure Europe's progress towards meeting its own criteria,” said Jennifer Blanke, Senior Economist at the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Network.


The United Kingdom is the best performer in financial services, which one would expect, given London's position as a major international financial hub. France, ranked eighth overall, is among the top performers in the development of its network industries but suffers from weaknesses in developing an information society and general liberalization in the economy.

Several May 2004 accession countries have improved their comparative performance since 2004, putting them ahead of many longer-standing EU members, including Estonia, Slovenia and Hungary (ranked 12th, 16th and 17th, respectively). This implies that a number of these recent members are already closer to meeting the Lisbon goals than many of the original EU15 members.

Among candidate countries, Croatia and Turkey, two countries with no foreseen entry date, do better in many of the different dimensions, and in the overall ranking, than Bulgaria and Romania, two countries which will join the EU in January 2007. What is perhaps even more remarkable is that both Croatia and Turkey score higher overall than Poland, a present EU member.

“The assessment indicates that EU attention should be focused on three areas in order to get closer to the Lisbon goal of becoming 'the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world': improving the environment for innovation and R&D, developing a stronger information society and creating an enterprise environment that is more conducive for private sector economic activity,” said Jennifer Blanke, Senior Economist at the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Network.

The eight dimensions measured by The Lisbon Review 2006 are:
1) Creating an information society for all
2) Developing a European area for innovation and R&D
3) Liberalization (completing the single market, state aid and competition policy)
4) Building network industries
5) Creating efficient and integrated financial services
6) Improving the enterprise environment
7) Increasing social inclusion
8) Enhancing sustainable development

The assessment is based on publicly available hard data (e.g. Internet penetration rates, unemployment rates) and data from the World Economic Forum's Executive Opinion Survey (EOS). The EOS is a survey of business leaders that is carried out annually in well over 100 countries and provides data for a variety of qualitative issues for which hard data does not exist (e.g. the quality of the educational system, the government's prioritization of information and communications technologies). The results can therefore be interpreted to a certain extent as the business community's perspective on Europe's relative performance in meeting the Lisbon goals

Source: World Economic Forum.