The European Semester is an annual cycle of economic and budgetary policy coordination in the EU in which guidance is provided to EU countries before they take policy decisions at national level. The guidance is provided in the context of the stability and growth pact and the macroeconomic imbalances procedure. The European Semester also serves to implement the Europe 2020 strategy.
It runs as follows:
- In late autumn, the European Commission publishes its annual growth survey which outlines general economic priorities for the EU for the coming year.
- The annual growth survey is debated by the other institutions and feeds the discussion leading up to the spring European Council.
- In February, the Commission publishes country reports on the overall economic and social developments in each EU country. For some countries, these include in-depth reviews.
- In April, EU countries present national plans. Based on a comprehensive assessment of the economic situation in each country, the Commission then proposes country-specific policy recommendations for each one.
- The recommendations are discussed by the Council and endorsed by the European Council in June, before being finally adopted by the national finance ministers.
- EU countries are expected to reflect the recommendations in their budgetary and policy plans for the subsequent year and to implement them in the coming 12 months.