Wednesday, 30 November 2011

EU: Ecofin and Annual Growth Survey 2012

The agenda of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council 30 November 2011 promises a presentation by the Commission of the Annual Growth Survey (AGS).

Here is a recent blog post about the second European Semester and AGS, with links back to the first round.

The Ecofin Council background note underlines the need for implementation of the guidelines this time around:

Annual growth survey

The Commission will present its annual growth survey, outlining priority actions to be taken by member states in order to ensure better-coordinated and more effective policies for putting Europe's economy on a path to sustainable growth (doc. 17229/11).

As the Commission's autumn economic forecasts show, economic recovery has come to a standstill and low levels of confidence are adversely affecting investment and consumption, due to a negative feedback from the sovereign debt crisis and a slowdown in the global economy. As a result, the outlook for growth in 2012 is gloomy and unemployment levels are likely to remain high. In such a situation, the Commission would have expected stronger progress in following up on last year's guidance. This year's annual growth survey therefore puts strong emphasis on the need for implementation.

For 2012, it suggests that efforts at national and EU levels concentrate on the following priorities:
- pursuing differentiated growth-friendly fiscal consolidation;
- restoring normal lending to the economy;
- promoting growth and competitiveness for today and tomorrow, with particular emphasis on the digital economy, the internal market for services and external trade, as well as better use of the EU budget;
- tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis, in particular mobilising labour, supporting employment of young people and protecting the vulnerable;
- modernising public administration.

The annual growth survey constitutes the starting point for the European Semester, which involves simultaneous monitoring of the member states' fiscal policies and structural reforms, in accordance with common rules, during a six-month period every year.

The European Semester was implemented for the first time this year (it concluded in July) as part of a reform of EU economic governance. The 2012 European Semester will be the second such exercise; presentation of the annual growth survey has been brought forward this time, in order to facilitate implementation

In March, the European Council will assess implementation of country-specific recommendations made under the 2011 European Semester and will provide guidance for 2012.

Annual Growth Survey 2012

The Annual Growth Survey 2012 consists of five volumes, the AGS proper plus four Annexes (about 95 pages in all). This COM document is not available through the legal portal Eur-Lex (yet). You can probably get the best overview from the Europe 2020 web page Annual Growth Surveys - Annual Growth Survey 2012. Below in English:

Annual Growth Survey 2012 VOL. 1/5; Brussels, 23.11.2011 COM(2011) 815 final (18 pages)

Progress report on the Europe 2020 strategy VOL. 2/5 - ANNEX I; Brussels, 23.11.2011 COM(2011) 815 final (27 pages)

Macro-economic report VOL. 3/5 - ANNEX II; Brussels, 23.11.2011 COM(2011) 815 final (21 pages)

Draft joint employment report VOL. 4/5 - ANNEX III; Brussels, 23.11.2011 COM(2011) 815 final (16 pages)

Growth-friendly tax policies in member states and better tax coordination in the EU VOL. 5/5 - ANNEX IV; Brussels, 23.11.2011 COM(2011) 815 final (13 pages)

You can access the other language versions of the AGS 2012 web page through the menu in the upper right hand corner.

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The Annual Growth Survey 2012 and its Annexes are among the most important documents from the Commission with regard to the coming year at EU level and in the member states.



Ralf Grahn