an arrow over upward stepsLast week saw the publication of the “Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy” (ASGS) by the European Commission which marks the start of the 2021 European Semester cycle which is the cycle of coordination of economic and social policy across the EU.

This year’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy is a very different publication compared to previous years. Firstly, it has been published two months earlier than usual and, secondly, it is without its usual accompanying documents of the Euro Area Recommendation, the Alert Mechanism Report, the Joint Employment Report, the Single Market Performance Report and the third annual monitoring report on the implementation of the 2018 Structural Reform Support Programme.

Instead it includes guidance for the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU. The Facility will provide €672.5 billion of loans and grants in financial support to encourage recovery. In order to benefit from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Member States must submit draft recovery and resilience plans outlining national investment and reform agendas. These plans should address the economic policy challenges set out in the country-specific recommendations of recent years and in particular in the 2019 and 2020 cycles.

Because of this link with the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the 2021 Semester will be altered beyond recognition. 2021 will see no Country Reports for those countries submitting recovery and resilience plans (likely to be all), nor any country-specific recommendations issued. Instead, the Commission will provide a detailed response to the recovery plans submitted by each member state.


To read this year’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, please visit the European Commission’s website.

Eurodiaconia has been engaged with the development of the European Semester process since its inception in 2011 and has provided the European Commission with analysis and feedback from our members at all stages of the cycle. If you would like to know more on the issues, please read our recent publication looking at the country-specific recommendations for 2020.