The author draws upon recent experience of providing consultancy services to a working group established by the European Commission in 2001 to facilitate the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy for economic, social, and environmental renewal in the European Union. The article begins with a critique of the ‘new basic skills’ identified at the Lisbon European Council on 23 and 24 March 2000. These were information and communication technologies (ICT), technological culture, foreign languages, entrepreneurship, and social skills. The article raises questions about the compatibility of the economic and social aims of the Lisbon Strategy. It also asks whether the Lisbon Process privileges certain forms of knowledge over others. Furthermore, who are the winners and the losers in the breathless rush towards increased economic competitiveness? The author concludes that the logic of competition inherent in the Lisbon Process may undermine rather than reinforce social solidarity; and that the chronic neglect of some really basic skills has had dire social and economic consequences.