Friday, 8 July 2011

European Council: Economic policy timetable

The European Council was concerned about the regulatory burden of small businesses, especially micro enterprises employing less than ten persons. The summit called for a reduction of the burden on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Exemptions or lighter regimes for micro-enterprises are on the cards. The European Council welcomed the commitment of the Commission to assess the impact of future regulations on micro enterprises and to screen the acquis (body of EU law) to identify existing obligations from which micro enterprises could be excluded. See the blog post: European Council on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Economic growth

We return to the conclusions of the heads of state or government on economic policy, especially with regard to growth-enhancing reforms in the spirit of the Europe 2020 (EU2020) strategy and related projects:

European Council 23/24 June 2011: Conclusions (EUCO 23/11; 16 pages)

At Council level, matters had been prepared during the Hungarian presidency of the EU Council (of ministers), notably EPSCO, Ecofin and GAC.

In paragraph 4 (page 3), the heads of state or government outlined the next steps concerning economic growth and job creation:

4. ----- It agreed to return to these issues at its December 2011 meeting. The Commission is also invited to prepare a roadmap on the completion of the digital Single Market by 2015. The Commission is invited to report in October 2011 on these growth-enhancing areas with a view to progress being achieved by the time of the Spring 2012 European Council.

European semester: 12 months?

The Commission is going to monitor progress and possibly prepare additional proposals, leading to a report in October 2011, during the Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The European Council will return to the economic growth issues in December 2011, after input from the relevant Council configurations.

The European Council had already (paragraph 1) given the European semester green light as ”an effective governance method to support EU and national policy-making in an integrated, transparent and timely manner”.

The planning cycle leads to an assessment of the Stability or Convergence Programme and the National Reform Programme (NRP) of each EU member state. We can expect the keynote document, the second Annual Growth Survey (AGS) from the European Commission in January 2012.

With or without an extra European Council in between, various Council configurations will deal with fiscal policies and economic reform issues (including the Euro Plus Pact commitments) during the second leg of the presidency trio of Poland, Denmark and Cyprus.

The spring European Council, usually late March, will provide more or less clear signals for the next round of public national programmes based on the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) and the EU2020 strategy in April, followed by Commission proposals for recommendations.

We can expect more Council conclusions in June, during the Danish presidency, before the concluding European Council, although the formal recommendations will probably be issued in July, when Cyprus has taken over the chair at the Council meetings.


If we take preparatory work and implementation at the EU level, as well as operational and budget decisions and preliminary programmes at the national level into account, we find that the European semester is more than a six-month exercise, keeping actors busy the whole year.

Thus, it becomes an ongoing exercise, which needs common vision and smooth cooperation between the countries of each presidency trio (cf. Wikipedia).

Ralf Grahn

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