European Semester: how to improve the EU coordination of economic policies 


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Elisa Ferreira during the committee meeting on 17 September 

The EU coordination of economic policies - known as the European Semester- should be more transparent and involve the European and national Parliaments more closely, according to Elisa Ferreira. The Portuguese Social Democrat is in charge of formulating the EP's opinion on carrying out EU policy recommendations to member states. The economic committee held a meeting on 17 September 2015 to discuss the process with representatives of national parliaments.

Ferreira spoke out in favour of a new approach: "Countries need to get back in charge of the country-specific recommendations and the quality of the recommendations needs to be looked at." However, she added: "We also have to realise that countries aren't free to go their own way completely because of the impact they can have on their fellow member states."

Some of the national deputies present at the meeting challenged the need to comply with the recommendations. Jean-Paul Gauzès, a French MEP who monitors this issue on behalf of the EPP group, responded: "You need to be aware of the fact that those recommendations which emanated from the Commission were actually adopted by the Council. If member states don't like the recommendations then they should object to them when they are up for an adoption."

National deputies also called for a regular debate with the Commission and the European Parliament on the European Semester. The country-specific recommendations should also be communicated earlier in order to clarify the position of each member state.

Cycle of European Semester  
  • Commission publishes Annual Growth Survey setting out EU priorities  
  • EU heads of state adopt EU economic priorities (spring summit in March) 
  • Member states submit their action and reform plans to the Commission (April) 
  • Commission comes out with country specific recommendations (May) 
  • European Council endorses the country-specific recommendations (end of June/July) 
  • Member state use recommendations when drafting their next year's budget 
  • EP plays advisory role in the process