The European Commission recently published the country reports under the European Semester 2019, analysing the social and economic situation in each EU member state. The country reports include more examples and analysis related to specific urban challenges than in any other previous country reports beforehand, which is good news for cities.
Why is the European Semester important for cities?
2019 is a particularly important year for the European Semester. The analysis of progress in country reforms as well as the remaining challenges make the basis for identifying investment needs that will guide the allocation of EU cohesion policy funding in post-2020 - the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund for the period 2021-2027.
In concrete terms, for the very first time, the 2019 country reports include an additional annex on ‘Investment Guidance on Cohesion Policy Funding 2021-2027’.
Cities should have a say on this country analysis in order to influence the investment guidance for cohesion policy funding in the period 2021-2027 so as to ensure your city can get future EU funding for the real needs and priorities for investment at local level.
How can your city have a say?
1. Give your feedback on the country analysis by filling in the short EUROCITIES survey below and submit it before 5 April 2019.
EUROCITIES will then compile the inputs into a report that will be discussed during the spring Working Groups meeting. All working groups’ reports will be gathered into an overview EUROCITIES report that will be presented to the European Commission in view of influencing the country specific recommendations and the investment guidance on cohesion policy funding for 2021-2027.
2. Take part in national meetings to voice your feedback
For the first-time ever, the European Commission contact points in the EU member states are organising meetings in every capital to present the European Semester country reports and especially to discuss the proposed investment priorities for cohesion policy (Annex D).
Representatives of cities are invited to participate in these ‘national meetings’ and to voice their feedback and inputs to the country reports and especially on the investment priorities for the future of cohesion policy in 2021-2027.
You can find the timetable of the events in the capitals of the EU member states in the document attached. Should you wish to attend, please contact the European Commission contact point in your country for details or, alternatively, your government representative in charge of the European Semester.
The European Semester is an annual cycle of policy coordination within the EU. During this cycle, the member states align their policies with the objectives agreed at EU level.
The European Semester was initially designed to coordinate economic and fiscal policies, but it evolved to monitor structural reforms focusing on inclusive growth and employment. Since 2018, social policies under the European Pillar of Social Rights are integrated in this policy monitoring and coordination in order to facilitate ‘social convergence’ in the EU.
In the European Semester, the European Commission first analyses each country’s plans and reforms. On this basis, it provides recommendations for the upcoming 12 to 18 months. These are then discussed in the Council of the EU to be finally endorsed and approved. Governments respond by taking different measures or reforms. The process restarts periodically every 12 months.
Every year in spring, the European Commission publishes country reports that analyse the social and economic situation in each EU member state. This country analysis is the basis for formulating recommendations for reforms in each member state, which the European Commission and the Council of the EU release in May.
This process of policy coordination, which started in 2011, is expected to continue and gain in importance. The European Commission aims to make the European Semester ‘more democratic and transparent’ by opening it up to involve cities and regions, social partners, civil society and other stakeholders. This is a great opportunity for EUROCITIES to raise awareness of the role of cities in delivering social policies and to highlight the increasing disparities within countries that are not captured by EU or national averages in the reports.