The Lisbon Process, which is also referred to as Lisbon Agenda or Lisbon Strategy - not to be confused with the Lisbon (Recognition) Convention, was launched in 2000 by the European Union in order to respond to globalisation and the need to create a new knowledge-driven economy. Its primary aim was to make the European Union (EU) the most competitive economy in the world by 2010.

The strategy rests on three pillars: an economic pillar preparing the ground for the transition to a competitive, dynamic, knowledge-based economy, an environmental pillar, and a social pillar designed to modernise the European social model by investing in human resources and combating social exclusion.

After a midterm review in 2005, the Lisbon Strategy was simplified to focus mainly on economic growth and jobs with two headline targets:

  • an employment rate (the proportion of Europe's working age population in employment) of 70% by the same date.
  • total (public and private) investment of 3% of Europe's GDP in research and development by 2010

The knowledge triangle of research, education and innovation is a core factor in meeting the Lisbon goals
. Therefore, it has been emphasised right from the beginning that the Lisbon goals would require not only enhancement in research infrastructure and research funding, but also a fundamental transformation of education and training throughout Europe.

In 2001, a report was launched on the future objectives of education and training systems in Europe. A year later, Ministers of education agreed on three major goals to be achieved by 2010 for the benefit of the citizens and the EU as a whole:

  • to improve the quality and effectiveness of EU education and training systems;
  • to ensure that they are accessible to all;
  • to open up education and training to the wider world.

Since then, numerous initiatives and measures have been launched to enhance education at European and EU Member State level, with the ongoing Bologna Process as a core element.

In 2005, the EC launched its Communication 'Mobilising the brainpower of Europe: enabling higher education to make its full contribution to the Lisbon Strategy' with a strong reference to European higher education in the global context, and a year later, in 'From Bergen to London', it laid down its commitment for the period between the Bologna Ministerial meetings in the two cities.

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Countries of the Lisbon Process (in yellow, EU candidate countries in green, EFTA/EEA in white)

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