The second quarter of 2017 was an important one for shaping the future of Social Europe. On 26 April, the European Commission published its final proposal on a European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as a Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe.

The Social Pillar has been in the making for more than a year. After a lengthy consultation period, in which Eurodiaconia has been closely involved, the initiative is now gaining momentum at the EU level. At a time where the Europe 2020 Strategy and its target on fighting poverty seem to be slowly fading into the background, the Social Pillar represents a new foundation for diaconal advocacy action. Its principles, ranging from upgrading minimum income schemes to ensuring adequate long term care, are aimed at supporting Member States to attain similarly high social standards across Europe. The European Semester is expected to play a key role in guiding and monitoring the implementation of the Pillar; members can find out more about the initiative in this issue.

Therefore, the Eurodiaconia Secretariat will continue informing you about the European Semester cycle, with its European Semester Quarterly (ESQ) in 2017. However, the scope of this publication will be broadened to include developments and analyses around the European Semester cycle, but also key documents relating to the wider reflection on Europe’s future. In this way, it aims at showing our members in which way the Semester cycle provides them an opportunity to discuss their vision of the future of (social) Europe with EU institutions and national governments.

This issue of the European Semester Quarterly features a closer look at the topic of ‘social investment’ in the context of the European Semester, an examination of the social content of the 2017 Country-Specific Recommendations, and an update on relevant institutional developments. Additional articles on the Social Pillar and the Reflection Paper aim to highlight the links between the Semester and others, and to help members identify opportunities for engagement. We hope the different articles in this issue can be of use for your advocacy work.

To know more about ‘social investment’ in the context of the European Semester, check our latest European Semester Quarterly.