On the 26th October EUD participated in the strategic dialogue meeting on the European Semester organised by the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) of the European Commission. The objective of the meeting was to explain participants how the Commission envisaged using the Social Pillar in the European Semester, and to discuss how civil society could be an active part of the corresponding policy debate.
The meeting started with a presentation by Mr Jutte, head of Unit responsible for the European Semester at DG EMPL. It was explained that the European Semester, its origins and process. EU Semester is a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the European Union. Each year, the European Commission undertakes a detailed analysis of each country’s plans for budget, macroeconomic and structural reforms. It then provides EU governments with country-specific recommendations for the next 12-18 months. Country Reports are the main input of the Commission into a multilateral process. Those are highly analytical but their abstracts (executive summaries) drive a political process.
Mr Jutte presented the recent economic and social developments, the European Pillar of Social Rights, the integration of Pillar into the Semester, and the possibilities of involving the civil society. Social considerations have been mainstreamed and reinforced in the European Semester since the beginning and it was highlighted that The Pillar will inspire the work done in the context of the European Semester and on the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union. The Semester analysis and recommendations will further reflect and promote principles set out in the Pillar. Benchmarking will be progressively conducted for policy domains which are particularly relevant for the functioning of the euro area.
The implementation of the Pillar will also be supported by an online social scoreboard to track trends and performances across EU countries. This will not only feed into the European Semester of economic policy coordination, but also serve to assess progress towards a “social triple A” for the EU as a whole.
After the presentation, an active discussion took place on both policy issues and operational aspects related to the involvement of civil society in the semester and its role in actively engaging on European Pillar of Social Rights issues. This meeting was a start of a regular interaction on the Semester and the Pillar implementation through the semester and the Strategic Dialogue will be continued. The indicative timing of the next meeting is March 2018, few weeks after the publication of Country Reports, so that participants can read and comment on them. EUD will follow up on the process.