Commission points to the economic and social challenges in the member states

The European Commission has published its annual analysis of the economic and social challenges in the EU Member States, the Country Reports. The reports are a policy coordination tool under the so-called European Semester to monitor policy reforms and to point early on to challenges that Member States shouldaddress.

The European Semester is the EU's annual cycle of economic policy guidance and surveillance.

Following the publication in November of the Annual Growth Survey 2016 and the euro area recommendation, which set out the priorities at European level, the country reports shift the attention of the European Semester to the national dimension. The reports were published last week (26.2) and can be found found under this link: Country Reports.

The reports will serve as the basis for discussion with member states of their national policy choices ahead of their National Programmes in April, and will lead to the formulation in late spring of the Commission's Country-Specific Recommendations.

Three Commissioners were involved in the drafting of the reports.

Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: "Against the background of growing external risks and increased volatility in financial markets, it is urgent to strengthen the fundamentals of our economies. A number of Member States still need to be more decisive in tackling persistent vulnerabilities, such as high public and private debt."

Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: "Although we have now reached the highest employment rate since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, still too many Europeans are unemployed. Through the European Semester, we remain committed to help Member States' efforts to get people back into jobs."

Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "The reports the Commission has presented provide the most accurate and detailed picture of EU economies. As the EU recovery remains fragile, the Commission urges Member States to continue reforming their economies and fixing persistent macroeconomic imbalances."

Greece and Cyprus, which are currently under stability support programmes, are not covered by Country Reports at this stage.

The reports include chapters on the structural issues facing each country. These issues vary by country. Some countries have serious problems in the judiciary and the public administration – such as human resource management, e-government, and public procurement - that are obstacles to economic growth.

The annexes to the reports are full of statistical data. Annex A is an overview table on to what extent the countries have made progress, if any, on implementing last year´s recommendations. It also shows the national targets in Europe 2020 and the progress in implementing them.

Europe 2020 is EU’s growth strategy for 2020. It was launched in 2010 to create the conditions for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe. Five headline targets were agreed for the EU to achieve by the end of 2020. These cover employment, research and development, climate and energy, education, and social inclusion and poverty reduction.

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