On 22 February, the European Commission has published its 2017 Country Reports, analysing the social and economic policies of EU Member States. Country Reports are an integral part of  the European Semester cycle, as they monitor progress made on social and economic issues, and provide a foundation for Country-Specific Recommendations, which will be issued by the Commission to national governments in May. A general summary of the role of Country Reports and their main findings for the year 2017 can be found in the European Commission’s official Communication. The Communication notes, on the one hand, that ”the risk of poverty or social exclusion is the lowest in five years, and the overall income distribution is more equal than in other major economies.” On the other hand, it acknowledges that ”significant challenges still persist as high unemployment, poverty and inequality in some countries remain key concerns following the economic and financial crisis.”

What can members do?

A more detailed analysis of the social dimension of the 2017 Country Reports will be provided in the first edition of Eurodiaconia’s European Semester Quarterly Journal, to be published in March. In the meantime, members are warmly encouraged to read their Country Reports, which can be accessed here. Particular attention should be paid to the executive summaries contained in each Country Report, which outline the Commission’s view on key trends per country. They provide a reliable indication of the potential focus of the Country-Specific Recommendations, which each government will receive later in the year.

Members can use the Country Reports in two different ways:

1) Members can use the Reports as a supporting tool in their advocacy towards their governments, complementing their own arguments with analyses provided by the Commission wherever possible and combining insights from the local/national and the EU level. This is particularly relevant now, as national governments are drafting their National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and are in many cases organising consultation rounds with civil society. To find out more about the NRP and the European Semester in general, please check Eurodiaconia’s online European Semester Toolkit.

2) Members can respond directly to the European Commission on the content of an individual Country Report, reflecting on the accuracy of its social analysis and even highlighting (new) content for a potential Country-Specific Recommendation. To do so, members can either contact the Eurodiaconia secretariat (Clotilde.clark-foulquier@eurodiaconia.org or Stephan.burger@eurodiaconia.org) or contact the European Commission Country Desk Officer responsible for their countries. A list of Country Desk Officers, compiled by the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), can be found here.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Secretariat.