This year's spring European Council (EC) on the Lisbon Strategy and the economic, social and environmental situation in the Union (25/26 March 2004) affirmed that the overall process and goals set in Lisbon four years earlier remain valid.
While urging a stepping-up of the pace of reform in order to achieve the 2010 targets, the EC focused on the most important policy issues that deliver higher economic growth and more jobs at the same time protecting the environmental resource base of the economy.
Cleaner technologies are vital in order to fully exploit synergies between enterprise and the environment. The EC welcomed the Environmental Technologies Action Plan and called for its rapid implementation, inviting the Commission and the EIB, which should include the EIF, to explore the mobilisation of the range of financial instruments to promote such technologies. The European Council will consider a report from the Commission at next year's Spring Council on overall progress of the Action Plan, and on other opportunities for the Union to promote win-win opportunities where environmental improvement can help to achieve the economic and social goals of the Lisbon Strategy.
In January 2004 the Commission adopted an Action Plan to improve the development and wider use of environmental technologies that have great potential to improve the environment and boost the competitiveness of companies (i.e. further development of renewable energy, recycling systems for waste water in industrial processes, energy efficiency measures e.g. car engines, soil remediation techniques, etc.). The Action Plan aims to overcome the existing barriers to the commercialization of these technologies through a concerted European effort. Key actions include the launch of technology platforms with stakeholders in areas such as hydrogen and fuel cells, photovoltaic, and water supply and sanitation; establishing environmental performance targets for products and services; and making the most of funding schemes and public and private procurement policies.
In December 2003 the EIB proposed a number of climate change initiatives, including a new ¬500 million financing facility to support the Climate Change policy of the EU, to help to bring about a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in support of the EU's Emission Trading Scheme. The Bank also actively supports the Lisbon process and specifically research, development and innovation through its Innovation 2010 Initiative(i2i) and it attributes particular importance within i2i to the implementation of the related part of the Quick Start Programme as identified within the Action for Growth launched by the European Council of December 2003.