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Date(s) - 24/09/2020
10:00 am - 12:30 pm


The Semester at the centre

In the course of only a few weeks, the discussions on the next seven-year budget of the EU underwent a complete transformation. Red lines defended for a decade became distant memories. The shape of the final MFF and Next Generation EU is dramatically different from what might have been expected only six months before.

Central to the new national recovery and resilience plans is the European Semester. The previously non-negotiable spending rules that were the backbone of the Semester have been shelved. Investment is now the order of the day. To access recovery funding, national recovery and resilience plans must be centred on reforms based on the European Semester recommendations. The Semester is now supposed to be aligned to the ambitions of the Green Deal and is also consistently referred to as the vehicle for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Semester is fast becoming the lynchpin of many different strands of EU policymaking. However, can it truly be compatible with the objectives of the economy of wellbeing that are inherent in the SDGs, the EPSR and the Green Deal whilst still remaining true to the Stability and Growth Pact?

In this conference, we will explore the evolution of the European Semester and what the recent changes to the MFF and recovery fund will mean for the process. COVID-19 has increased the pressure to consider people’s quality of life and wellbeing as key determinants in the development of our society and fundamental factors in driving economic growth, rather than just GDP growth. How can the Semester best respond? Is it time for a Stability and Wellbeing Pact? What changes need to be made in order to create an economy that works for the people and the planet?


Draft Agenda


10:00: Opening of conference


10:05 – 10:25: Setting the scene – The evolution of the European Semester, Professor Sonja Bekker, Tilburg University


10:25 – 10:45 – COVID-19 and the new MFF & Recovery Package – What does it mean for the Semester? Estelle Göger, European Commission, Member of Cabinet for Paolo Gentiloni


10:45 – 11:00 – Quality of life and wellbeing in driving economic growth – the eclipse of GDP? How will this fit with the Semester? Romina Boarini, Acting Head of the new OECD Centre for Well-Being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


11:00 – 11:20 – Perspectives from the national level

Sara Scheiflinger, Diakonie Osterreich, Austria

Trinus Hoekstra, Kerk in Actie, Netherlands


11:20 – 11:50 – Panel discussion – Is it time for a Stability and Wellbeing Pact? How must the Semester adapt to meet its new demands? (Dragos Pislaru MEP, Manon Aubry MEP)


11:50 – 12:20 – Q&A and discussion


12:20 – 12:30 – Final comments and close of meeting


Interested parties, please register.

If you have any questions, please contact our Policy Officer Laura Rayner at