Last week, the European Commission launched the European Semester Spring Package focusing on providing fiscal guidance to Member States to steer the reopening of their economies and the advancement towards a strong recovery.

Among other things, this Spring Package contains a Communication on economic policy coordination in 2021, the Commission policy recommendations for 2022 and the medium-term following assessment of Member States’ stability and convergence programme, and the Employment Guidelines. The Employment Guidelines present common priorities for national employment policies and provide the legal basis for Country-Specific Recommendations in the employment and social areas. Moreover, the Guidelines were updated to reflect the Porto Social Summit conclusions and refer to the European Pillar of Social Rights as a fundamental element of the recovery.

In general terms, the Spring Package provides that Member States make the best possible use of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) and that the fiscal stance remains supportive in 2021 and 2022 with the impulse expected from the RRF funds. In that sense, high-quality investment projects and reforms should be prioritised to support a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Semester has suffered modifications during 2020 and 2021 to incorporate the introduction of the RRF and to meet the challenges of the crisis. Concretely, this means that Country Reports and Country Specific Recommendations will not be issued this 2021. Instead, the Commission will shortly present its assessments of the National Recovery and Resilience plans received from most of the Member States by the end of April.

Eurodiaconia has been advocating for a reform on EU economic governance that – among other things – sufficiently balances economic and social priorities. We believe that the COVID-19 crisis and its reshaping of the Semester cycle has brought political momentum for a wider revision of the Semester structure which truly incorporates the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, and more broadly, a stronger social dimension that fosters upward social convergence.

For more information regarding Eurodiaconia’s work on the European Semester, you can read our report “Promoting shared prosperity in the European Semester: taking stock of the 2020 cycle and launching the 2021 Semester.”

To know more about the European Semester Spring Package, please refer to the European Commission website.