The European Union (EU) may fall short of some of its 2020 targets for economic development if it does not make greater efforts, the head of a leading Austrian research institute has warned. "Economic difficulties and national relapses" within the EU could be prevented if the 28-member bloc had a unified vision, Karl Aiginger, director of the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), said in a press release issued Wednesday. He said, if the goals were achieved, the EU could become a model for the United States and wealthier regions in Asia. Aiginger criticized the bloc for failing to develop a unified vision in the past decade for Europe's global position by 2050. There were several prerequisites for social and economic development in Europe, such as a stable financial sector, lower youth unemployment, increased use of green technology, and social equity, he said. The latter two must be viewed "not as a burden but as growth factors," Aiginger said, as they were based on innovation and highly skilled labor. In addition, the threats from low labor costs in emerging economies and cheap energy in the United States could be countered through "primarily an increase in productivity and efficiency," he said.