Economic and fiscal policies: Council issues recommendations to member states
On 14 July 2015, the Council issued recommendations and opinions on economic, employment and fiscal policies planned by the member states.
It also issued a recommendation on the economic policies of the euro area, and explanations in cases where the texts do not correspond with those proposed by the Commission.
The Council thereby formally concluded the 2015 'European Semester', an annual policy monitoring process, after the European Council endorsed the recommendations at its meeting in June.
Priorities for the European Semester were established in March 2015, when the European Council endorsed the following priorities:
- a coordinated boost to investment, with the Commission's 2015-17 investment plan for Europe
- a renewed commitment to structural reforms, to enable countries to grow out of debt and stimulate the creation of more and better jobs
- the pursuit of fiscal responsibility, securing control over deficit and debt levels in the long term
Monitoring member state policies
The European Semester involves simultaneous monitoring of member states' economic and fiscal policies during a six-month period every year.
In the light of policy guidance given by the European Council annually in March, the member states present each year in April:
- National reform programmes for their economic and employment policies. These set out a macroeconomic scenario for the medium term, national targets for implementing the 'Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth, identification of the main obstacles to growth, and measures for growth-enhancing initiatives in the short term.
- Stability or convergence programmes for their fiscal policies. Euro area countries present stability programmes, whereas non-euro member states present convergence programmes. These set out medium-term budgetary objectives, the main assumptions about expected economic developments, a description of fiscal and economic policy measures, and an analysis of how changes in assumptions are susceptible to affect fiscal and debt positions.
The Council then approves country-specific recommendations and opinions (CSRs) for endorsement by the European Council. It provides explanations in cases where the recommendations do not correspond with those proposed by the Commission.
The 2015 CSRs are addressed to 26 of the EU's 28 member states and to the euro area as a whole. To avoid duplication there are no CSRs for Cyprus and Greece, as they were both subject to macroeconomic adjustment programmes when the texts were drafted.