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European Semester: MEPs debate with national parliaments how to improve economic collaboration

How to get the EU and member states to cooperate better on economic issues will be discussed by MEPs and their counterparts from national parliaments in Brussels on 28-30 January. The European Semester is the name given to the annual cycle of economic policy coordination that aims to bring member states' economic policies closer together. For a long time MEPs have argued that parliaments need to be more involved to ensure democratic legitimacy and trust in the process.

The event

The event this week aims to provide MEPs with a better understanding of member states' economic concerns and national parliaments with a clearer view of European priorities.

The programme

European political groups will hold a meeting before the conference's official opening on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon this will be followed by  parallel meetings by the EP's budget, employment and economic affairs committees. The conference will end on Wednesday morning with closing remarks by EP president Martin Schulz, Commission president José Manuel Barroso, Council president Herman Van Rompuy and Irish parliament speaker Seán Barrett.

The European Semester

The European Semester was introduced in 2011 as a response to the crisis. Every year the Commission publishes its annual growth survey, which sets out priorities and identifies countries at risk. Member states are then asked to endorse the priorities at the Council's spring summit.

After this countries submit their action plans to the Commission, which assesses them before making recommendations with potentially far reaching implications for member states' tax structure, labour market laws or pension schemes. The recommendations are then formally adopted by the Council.

The European Parliament currently has an advisory role in the process but given its potential impact on public policies, MEPs are arguing for more intense democratic scrutiny and a greater involvement by parliaments and civil society.

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