On 26 February, the European Commission published this year’s European Semester Country Reports, also known as the winter package. For the first time, the reports assess Member States’ progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The European Semester is an annual process providing a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the European Union. It allows EU countries to discuss their economic and budget plans and monitor progress at specific times throughout the year.
The reports cover all areas of macroeconomic or social importance and take stock of the country’s budgetary situation. They assess Member States’ progress in implementing the EU country-specific recommendations (CSRs), the tailored policy guidance the Commission provides each year, also called the spring package.
For the first time, the reports assess Member States’ progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting the macro-economic and employment policies that can help to achieve them. Each country report now includes a summary assessment of Member States’ progress towards achieving the SDGs as well as a dedicated annex setting out the individual Member State’s SDG performance and the trend over the past five years.
The European Semester has the potential to facilitate the path towards universal access to healthcare for all and therefore, efforts to strengthen the social dimension of the European Semester and fully implement the social pillar need to be upheld.
The 2019-2020 cycle started with the publication of the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy in December 2019, also known as ‘autumn package’. This was the first step in refocusing the European Semester on competitive sustainability.
In May 2020, The European Commission will present its proposals for Country specific recommendations (CSRs) (so called ‘spring package’) on the basis of these reports.