European Semester: Country Reports published

In its annual assessment of the economic and social situation in the Member States, the European Commission today stresses the need to promote investment, pursue responsible fiscal policies and implement well-designed reforms.

Progress with Country-Specific Recommendations
The Country Reports assess Member States’ progress in implementing the Country-Specific Recommendations of July 2018. Overall, Member States have achieved some or more progress with the implementation of more than two-thirds of the recommendations issued since the introduction of the European Semester in 2011. Member States have made most progress on the recommendations on financial services, reflecting the priority given to the stabilisation and soundness of the financial sector in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Sound progress has also been achieved with regard to reforms facilitating job creation on permanent contracts and addressing labour market segmentation.

In recent years, one of the ways in which the Commission aims to help Member States step up their reform efforts is through its Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP), which aims to provide technical support to all EU Member States, at their request, to help them design and implement growth-enhancing reforms. This also includes reforms highlighted in the Country-Specific Recommendations.

As part of today’s package, the Commission also adopted the Structural Reform Support Programme’s 2019 Work Programme. In 2019, the SRSP will provide technical support to 26 Member States to carry out more than 260 projects. This comes in addition to more than 290 projects selected in 2017 and 2018.

What next?
In April, Member States are expected to present their National Reform Programmes, detailing national reform priorities, and their Stability Programmes (for euro area countries) or Convergence Programmes (for non-euro area countries), setting out their multiannual fiscal strategies.

Based on all these programmes, the Commission will present in spring its proposals for a new set of Country-Specific Recommendations, targeting the key challenges to be addressed for 2019-2020. The recommendations will also include fiscal guidance. They will be based on the Commission Spring Forecast which will incorporate final 2018 budgetary data validated by Eurostat.

Background
This Winter Package is part of the annual cycle of economic policy coordination at EU level, the European Semester. It follows the publication in November of the 2019 Annual Growth Survey and the euro area recommendation (Autumn Package), which set the priorities for the year ahead at European level. It now zooms in on the national dimension of the European Semester.

It is based on the latest data from the Commission’s Winter 2019 Economic Forecast and builds on the continuous dialogue with Member States’ authorities and stakeholders to review progress made over time. The Country Reports provide the underpinning for the Member States to develop their national programmes by mid-April and for the Commission’s upcoming Country-Specific Recommendations later in Spring (Spring Package).

Further Information
European Semester Winter Package
28 Country Reports
Malta’s 2019 Country Report
Communication on the main findings of the Country Reports
Updated Employment Guidelines for 2019

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