In its press release accompanying the 2015 CSRs, the European Commission claims that it has made “a number of changes” to the European Semester process with the aim of “increasing political ownership and accountability of European and national decision-making.” According to the Commission, this includes:
– a better focus on the priorities of the Annual Growth Survey with fewer recommendations on just a few, key priority areas for action;
– an earlier publication of country-specific and euro area analyses to allow for deep discussions with Member States and social partners on the key issues;
– a more intensive outreach at political and technical levels to discuss past and future recommendations; and
– an adjusted timetable to give more time for all actors to discuss and agree priorities from a European perspective and to compare national performance and priorities in this light.
Apart from this, the Commission says its CSRs aim to improve “employment policy and social protection to enable, support and protect people throughout their lives and to ensure stronger social cohesion as a key component of sustainable economic growth.”
In the context of its work in the European Semester Alliance, a broad stakeholder coalition to support progress towards a more democratic, social and sustainable European Semester, CESI will now analyse these announcements and assess whether the European Commission’s claims carry weight and can be welcomed against the backdrop of much needed boosts in transparency, democracy & legitimacy, effectiveness, and social justice in the European Semester process and policy substance.