European Semester: why it matters 


MEPs and 140 of their national counterparts at the second inter-parliamentary meeting are discussing economic governance and related issues, and more particularly ways to ensure adequate parliamentary scrutiny, and hence the democratic legitimacy of common policies adopted and national “ownership” of the economic reforms to be undertaken.

Whereas euro countries were meant to treat their economic policies as a common concern when the euro was created, the financial and economic crisis really brought home to them the need to restart economic integration. New instruments have therefore been put in place for closer economic policy coordination and surveillance.

One important tool is the European Semester for economic policy coordination, which provides EU input into the national economic policy-making process of every country.

However, there was also an important hurdle to be cleared - the lack of sufficient democratic

legitimacy structures for such coordination and integration. The European Parliament believes that tighter economic governance needs to be supported by tighter democratic control.

Closer integration must include ways to legitimise such action and the European Parliament among others has been pressing for Article 13 of the Stability Pact[1] to be put into practice.

This background note seeks to explain not only why the Semester matters, but also why Parliament believes that the key to successful economic policy coordination is for the European Semester to become more politicised and democratically accountable.

[1] As foreseen in Title II of Protocol (No 1) on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union annexed to the European Union Treaties, the European Parliament and the national Parliaments of the Contracting Parties will together determine the organisation and promotion of a conference of representatives of the relevant committees of the national Parliaments and representatives of the relevant committees of the European Parliament in order to discuss budgetary policies and other issues covered by this Treaty.