Monday, 4 April 2011

European Council: Economic policy reform priorities III

Having looked at the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) from the Commission in Part One and EU 2020 macroeconomic and fiscal guidance offered by the Ecofin Council in Part Two, we turn to another submerged part of the iceberg, awkwardly acknowledged by the Europan Council, in footnote 1 to paragraph 2:

In line with the Council's conclusions of 15 February and 7 March 2011 and further to the Commission's Annual Growth Survey. See also the Presidency's synthesis report of 16 March 2011.

Source:

European Council 24/25 March 2011 Conclusions; Brussels, 25 March 2011 (EUCO 10/11; 34 pages)


EPSCO Council 7 March 2011

EPSO Council, I presume? (Cf Sir Henry Morton Stanley)

Only the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) seems to have convened on 7 March 2011.

Having identified the Council configuration, we head for its conclusions, by now available in 22 official EU languages; here English:

3073rd Council meeting Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (Employment and Social Policy); Brussels, 7 March 2011 (Council document 7360/11)

See also Grahnlaw: EU Council (EPSCO): EU2020 and March European Council.

Although the EPSCO Council discussed European Council issues under several subheadings in the conclusions and in a number of separate documents, mentioned on the pages from 7 to 12, the first paragraph on page 7 gives us a rough indication of the meeting:

The Council held a policy debate on issues relevant to the annual growth survey (AGS) and to the European Semester, namely the joint employment report (JER) and guidelines for the employment policies of the member states, and on items linked to the Europe 2020 strategy, i.e. the "European platform against poverty and social exclusion" and the main messages of the report on the social dimension of the strategy. The results of this debate and the joint employment report are to be submitted to the European Council of 24/25 March as part of EPSCO's Council contribution.


Joint Employment Report

The Council adopted the Joint Employment Report (JER), required annually by the Treaty:

Joint Employment Report; Brussels, 8 March 2011 (as adopted by the Council (EPSCO) at its session on 7 March 2011) (Council document 7396/11; 26 pages)

See also Grahnlaw: EU Joint Employment Report (JER) heading for spring summit.


Employment policy guidance

Praiseworthy, as in the case of the JER, the link in the EPSCO general conclusions now leads to the final version of the document, as adopted by EPSCO on 7 March 2011:

The Joint Employment Report in the context of the Annual Growth Survey 2011: political guidance on employment policies - Council Conclusions; Brussels, 8 March 2011 (Council document 7397/11; 7 pages)

Worryingly, already the first evaluation of the Europe 2020 strategy indicated that the draft National Reform Programmes (NPR) collectively fell short of the EU2020 targets for a 75 per cent employment rate as well as for lifting 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion by 2020.


Employment guidelines

The employment guidelines for 2011, to be formally adopted soon after the European Council, will be substantially the same as in 2010. Actually they said in the 2010 guidelines that they wanted minimal changes until the end of 2014:

Proposal for a Council Decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States - General approach; Brussels, 2 March 2011 (Council document 6192/2/11 REV 2)

Interinstitutional File: 2011/0007 (CNS)

See also Grahnlaw Suomi Finland: EU employment policy guidelines 2011: How annual can you get? (includes link to the existing guidelines, Council decision 2010/707/EU)


Platform against poverty and social exclusion


The EPSCO Council adopted conclusions on the European platform against poverty and social exclusion (7434/1/11), establishing its position on the key elements of the Commission flagship initiative. Again we find that the offered link leads to the final version of the document, as adopted by the EPSCO Council on 7 March 2011:

The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion: a European framework for social and territorial cohesion - Council Conclusions; Brussels, 9 March 2011 (Council document 7434/1/11 REV 1; 8 pages)

In addition, the EPSCO Council endorsed the opinion of the Social Protection Committee (SPC):

Contribution to the European Council (24-25 March 2011): - The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion Flagship Initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy = Opinion of the Social Protection Committee; Brussels, 15 February 2011 (Council document 6491/11; 5 pages)


Social dimension of EU2020

The EPSCO Council also endorsed the main messages of the report about the social dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy, drafted by the SPC:

Contribution to the European Council (24-25 March 2011): - Assessment of the social dimension of the Europe 2020 Strategy: 2011 report of the Social Protection Committee = Main messages of the report; Brussels, 18 February 2011 (Council document 6624/11; 4 pages)

The full report from which these main messages are drawn is:

SPC Assessment of the social dimension of the Europe 2020 Strategy (2011) - Full report; Brussels, 18 February 2011 (Council document 6624/11 ADD 1; 50 pages)


Comments

The European Council fails to make clear choices based on public proposals, leaves submitted documents without acknowledgement, avoids linking to relevant conclusions and documents, and does not even identify the important documents clearly. Low points for user-friendliness, as well as communication skills and motivation to engage citizens.

Three blog posts down, but we do not know for sure what the official EU institution called the European Council endorses and – more importantly – where it omits its support.

Management by osmosis?



Ralf Grahn



P.S. Advance voting starts in two days and polling day is only two weeks away, but well governed, competitive and fairly social Finland looks different. Suddenly, one out of five Finns want to make a mental return trip to the 1950's by voting for the True Finns. Helsingin Sanomat International tries to explain.