European Semester: coordinating economic policies between EU countries

The EU coordinates and monitors member states’ economic, budgetary and employment policies in a process known as the European Semester, resulting in these countries receiving guidelines on issues such as taxes, pensions and possible budget cuts. On Tuesday 14 June Parliament’s economic and employment committees debate this year’s recommendations. Watch our explanatory video above for more information.

This week’s meeting

The joint meeting of the economic and empolyment committees takes place on Tuesday 14 June from 16.30 to 18.30 CET. Members are set to to discuss this year’s European Semester with Valdis Dombrovskis, the commissioner responsible for the euro and social dialogue; Pierre Moscovici , the commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs; and Marianne Thyssen, the commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility.

How the European Semester works

The European Semester starts every year with the European Commission publishing its annual growth survey in November. This is a growth forecast setting up a framework, which EU countries can use to evaluate their budgetary plans. While strong growth means more revenue, weak growth leads to less revenue. It ends in June when national governments adopt the recommendations based on the annual growth survey. They have to take these recommendations on board when drafting their budget for the following year.Throughout the process Parliament plays an advisory role. It also holds public debates to raise awareness, involves national MPs and ensures the accountability of proposals and decisions by the Commission and the Council.

How it started

The economic and financial crisis that started in 2008 showed how quickly and strongly instability in one country could spread to the rest of the European Union. In 2010 the European Council decided to establish the European Semester to help to better coordinate national policies at the EU level. The resulting structural reforms could then ensure stability, prevent or curb excessive public debt and deficits, as well as boost growth and fight unemployment. The first European Semester took place the following year.Although all EU countries are involved, there is a special focus on those in the euro zone.