The European Semester and Cohesion policy - Towards a new European strategy post-2020 (own-initiative opinion)

EESC opinion: The European Semester and Cohesion policy - Towards a new European strategy post-2020 (own-initiative opinion)

Key points:

    The EESC

  • Considers that the links between the European Semester and EU cohesion policy  have huge potential to be utilised to improve coordination and governance of the EU's economic policy. It is a sign of better governance and of a performance-based approach. Through its coordinating nature, it brings together the implementation of strategic economic, social and environmental goals, political priorities and interaction between short and long-term tasks;
  • believes in the Semester process, and proposes that there should be a more balanced application of the incentive and differentiated, well-founded and carefully considered sanctions coordinating the implementation of the economic, social and environmental objectives.
  • recognises with regret that the level of performance of the agreements is very different, depending on the status of macroeconomic development in each country. Implementation of the multiannual policies is generally low (between 40 and 50%);
  • notes that a strengthened Semester process should be the most important element of economic policy coordination. Key issues include the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, sustainable employment, the introduction of minimum social standards, on the basis of a common European framework, set by the European Semester, and also more ambitious climate targets and better protection of biodiversity;
  • proposes that the renewed system of European governance based on the EU 2030 Strategy should focus more on results and set fewer priorities, facilitating access to administrative procedures and relying more on its understanding of and cooperation with civil society. All this must go hand in hand with the development of monitoring and evaluation systems. One important way of strengthening European governance is to enhance multi-level public administration and to open up more freely to participation;
  • has to find a newly defined place in European policy and strategy preparation and implementation, taking up a new and stronger position in European governance. The EESC seeks to establish better understanding by strengthening a regular and structured dialogue with social partners and civi; society and suggests that an EESC competence centre for exchange of information could be established to address implementation concerns in relation to a future EU strategy;
  • believes that by conducting a continuous assessment of the complex targets, the Semester will prove capable of focusing on reducing the risk of crises in the future and of creating a sustainable, meaningful and responsive economic and social environment.