This week the European Commisison launched the Country Specific Recommendations (CSR’s) as part of the European Semester. CSR’s are given to each Member State and are designed to direct their economic growth. Originally, the European Semester was supposed to address both social and economic policies in Member States in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, including the target of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty and exclusion in Europe by 20 million. Increasingly, the focus has been on the economic although this year the Commission has recognized the need to ensure that the social effect of economic policies is measured.

This in many ways is a huge step forward and something we have been calling for for the last five years. But measurement means nothing if it is not acted upon. What we want to know is if there is a detrimental effect from economic policies on social well being – will those economic policies be changed? This is the next question we will be asking. And the European Commission will need to answer. This week at the Kirchentag people from across Europe have been telling us what sort of Europe they want and many want a Europe that is fairer, more equal and where everyone has possibilities for participation. If the economic policy of the European Commission does not deliver on the vision that the people of Europe have then exercises such as the European Semester will rapidly become meaningless.

The Kirchentag has also reminded me this week of the strength of human spirit when we unite together for a common cause in a week that has also seen unbelievable tragedy. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the city of Manchester and all those from the UK and beyond who have been affected by the heinous act of barbarity that took place on Monday evening.  May you know peace, love and hope at this time.

Have a good weekend,