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The European Semester

Since 2011, the European Semester has been a crucial element for the economic surveillance in the European Union.

Since 2011, the European Semester has been a crucial element for the economic surveillance in the European Union. In addition to the Fiscal Compact, which sets a structural deficit limit of -0.5 percent of GDP for the state as a whole, and the reformed Stability and Growth Pact, it contributes to promoting structural reforms.

The European Semester is a co-ordinating instrument that is divided into different phases and stages of action in order to enable the Member States to tackle the economic challenges that affect the European Union. Within the framework of the European Semester, the Member States and the European Commission are in regular exchange and discuss their economic policy reforms and budgetary plans during the first semester. In the second half of the year, Member States implement appropriate measures at national level.

Implementation of the European Semester

The European Semester starts in late autumn with the publication of the "Autumn Package". It consists of the Annual Growth Survey, the Alert Mechanism Report, the Draft Joint Employment Report, the Recommendation for the Euro Area and the Commission Opinions on the Draft Budgetary Plans of the euro area Member States.

The Annual Growth Survey identifies the main financial, economic and employment policy challenges for the EU and its member states and provides a general economic policy orientation for the following year. The Alert Mechanism Report aims to identify macroeconomic risks as early as possible so that corrective action can be taken in time. The recommendations for the euro area focus on the points that are critical for the functioning of the euro area and propose concrete measures. The draft Joint Employment Report analyzes the employment situation and the social situation in Europe. In the Commission Opinions on the Draft Budgetary Plans of the euro area member states, the European Commission assesses whether the budgets for the following year are in line with the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact.

At the end of February, the European Commission publishes for each Member State a country report analyzing the economic situation as well as the progress of reforms. It also publishes the results of the in-depth analysis for all those Member States where the Alert Mechanism Report identified possible macroeconomic imbalances.

From December to March, Ministers in the councils discuss the autumn package reports and adopt conclusions on this topic. In March, Heads of States and Governments conclude on the autumn package and provide general guidance for the EU and the euro area.

In April, Member States send their Stability / Convergence Programms and National Reform Programms to the Commission. In these reports, the Member States outline the measures taken in recent months to implement the country-specific recommendations and what further implementation steps are planned for the next 12 to 18 months.

In May, the European Commission reviews these reports and publishes updated country-specific recommendations for each Member State. These recommendations are discussed by the Council and adopted by the European Council at the end of June. The European Council in July will formally end the European Semester by adopting the country-specific recommendations.

By 15 October at the latest, the euro member states have to submit their Draft Budgetary Plans for the following year. The Commission assesses the drafts to be in line with the Stability and Growth Pact and country-specific recommendations, and prepares an opinion on each of them, which are published under the Autumn Package in November.

The National Reform Programme

The National Reform Programme is an essential part of economic policy coordination under Article 121 TFEU. Every year in April, Member States have to submit, together with the Stability and Convergence Programms, a report on the implementation of structural reforms to the Brussels authorities.

In accordance with the guidelines, the National Reform Programm provides information on the measures taken by the Federal Government over the past 12 months regarding the implementation of the country-specific recommendations and steps to achieve the national Europe 2020 targets. In addition, there is a brief outlook on reform plans for the next 12 to 18 months.

The Austrian National Reform Programm also provides a separate appendix with an overview of the reforms at states ("Bundesländer"), municipalities and social partners level.

In Austria the National Reform Programme is produced with the involvement of all ministries, the social partners and the representatives of the "Bundesländer" and municipalities. The report is coordinated by the Federal Chancellery.