Following the publication of the country-specific recommendations in May 2020, Eurodiaconia asked its members for their opinions on how well the selected priorities reflected the situation in their countries. Their thoughts, combined with the draft recommendations they suggested after the publication of the Winter Package, have provided the basis for the position paper published today, “Boosting sustainable and inclusive growth through the European Semester.”

This document assesses the country-specific recommendations as a whole, including how well they reflect the social challenges across the EU and if they properly reflect the ambitions of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Ensuring a social market economy that promotes inclusive growth is a priority for our members and this is demonstrated by their engagement in the provision of care, work integration, and related social services for unemployed and disadvantaged persons. As a result, Eurodiaconia has been involved in the European Semester since its very beginning in 2011 and has been publishing inputs and reactions at the various stages of the cycle.

Eurodiaconia recognises that the 2020 country-specific recommendations are unlike any that have come before and are, primarily, a crisis response. The recommendations issued broadly allow member states to design their own responses to the pandemic. Nevertheless, we are concerned that, considering the degree to which the COVID-19 pandemic has, once again, brutally exposed how wide many of the inequality gaps in our society are, it is dangerous to use a broad brush to respond to the crisis. There is a real risk that those who were already struggling will fall further behind and those who were already socially excluded will face even greater deprivation. Furthermore, unless member states place more importance and urgency on the Semester and work towards implementing the recommendations, the whole process will be undermined.

To learn more about our members’ observations and our policy recommendations, please consult the full text of the publication.