EU Member States must strengthen stakeholder involvement in their efforts to reform national economies. Together with a new long-term EU strategy for sustainable development, this could help create a more efficient and inclusive European semester that is prepared to tackle the challenges facing the EU.
These are some of the main findings of a public hearing on Towards a more inclusive European Semester held by the EESC's European Semester Group on 28 February.
Opening the event, EESC president Luca Jahier called for the semester to be consolidated and said it was time to focus on inclusion, creating "decent lives for people and decent conditions for businesses" and giving growth a "more resilient, innovative and sustainable perspective".
Participants asked for the social partners, civil society organisations and national parliaments to be systematically involved in further reforms. They said that grassroots consultation was essential in winning public support and should be mandatory.
At present, the quality of involvement in structural reforms and the development of national reform programmes vary greatly across Europe and between policy areas. Moreover, delivery on country-specific recommendations is not satisfactory in all Member States. One of the main reasons for this is a lack of ownership over reforms.
Stakeholders were of the view that adopting the principles of partnership and multilevel governance could help improve not only ownership, but also the efficiency and inclusiveness of the semester process. They also called for a feedback mechanism for the consultation process and urged that reforms be properly monitored and evaluated.
Finally, stakeholders lamented the fact that the semester scoreboard did not consider factors such as climate change. They called for the process to be linked with a long-term EU strategy based on the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (jk)