The European Commission has set out its economic policy guidance to Member States for the next 12-18 months, in its 2017 country-specific recommendations (CSRs).
The economy in the EU and the euro area is proving resilient, but challenges continue. The Commission wants Member States to strengthen the fundamentals of their economies by implementing the common economic and social priorities of boosting investment, pursuing structural reforms and ensuring responsible fiscal policies.
The EU economy is growing and will continue to enjoy this positive trend in 2018 for the sixth year in a row. As the recovery is uneven and still vulnerable, priority should be given to reforms that can make growth more inclusive and reinvigorate productivity. Addressing inequality is firmly at the heart of the Commission's assessment and recommendations this year. With the economy moving forward, Europe needs now to restore opportunities for those left behind and keep pace with changing skills needs by investing in high quality education and training.
The next step is for Member States in the Council to endorse the proposed approach and adopt the Commission's country-specific recommendations, and to then implement them fully and in a timely manner. Ministers are expected to discuss the Country-Specific Recommendations ahead of their endorsement by EU Heads of State and Government. Member States must then implement the Recommendations through their national economic and budgetary policies in 2017-2018.
Growth rates in both the EU and the euro area were nearly 2% in 2016, public finances are improving and employment is at a record of nearly 233 million people. Unemployment is at its lowest since 2009 and investments exceed pre-crisis levels in some Member States – also helped by the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called Juncker Plan. However, slow productivity growth and the legacies of the crisis, including disparities within and across countries, continue to weigh on the economy, as does uncertainty stemming mostly from external factors.
To strengthen the positive trends and the convergence within countries and the EU, it is essential to achieve a more inclusive, robust and sustainable growth, including through greater competitiveness and innovation. This is the objective of the recommendations made under the European Semester of economic policy coordination. This approach also includes an enhanced focus on the social priorities and challenges in the Member States.
Source: EU Commission