Wednesday 9 June 2010

Adopting EU broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs)

According to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the EU member states regard their economic policies as a matter of common concern and they coordinate these policies in the Council (Article 121(1) TFEU).

The broad guidelines play an important part in this.

On a recommendation from the Commission, the Council formulates a draft for the broad guidelines of the economic policies of the member states and of the EU, and reports its findings to the European Council (Article 121(2) TFEU).

This is what the Council of the European Union (Economic and Financial Affairs, Ecofin) did 8 June 2010 (document 10689/10; page 9).

Next, the Council report on the broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) will be discussed by European Council, which will reach a conclusion at its 17 June 2010 meeting.

On the basis of this conclusion the Council (Ecofin) will adopt a recommendation setting out the broad economic policy guidelines, when it meets on 13 July 2010.

Europe 2020 strategy

A few words about the context:

The broad economic policy guidelines are crafted in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth, practically the raison d’ĂȘtre for the second Barroso Commission.

The Spring European Council in March already discussed the European Commission’s Europe 2020 proposal, with its seven “flagship initiatives”:

Europe 2020 ─ A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; Brussels, 3.3.2010 COM(2010) 2020 final (35 pages)

The European Council 25 to 26 March 2010 reached conclusions on the main elements of the Europe 2020 strategy (document EUCO 7/10), but the discussion will continue 17 June meeting, so the growth strategy and the BEPGs are going to be discussed at the same meeting.

Ecofin has given input on the Europe 2020 growth strategy as well.

Integrated guidelines

The European Council wants to consider macroeconomic, structural and competitiveness developments, as well as overall financial stability simultaneously.

Each year, the Council draws up guidelines on employment policies. The employment guidelines have to be consistent with the BEPGs (Article 148 TFEU).

Striving for improved consistency between policy areas, the institutions have tried to take a further step by shaping the BEPG recommendation and the employment guidelines into "integrated guidelines" setting a multi-annual framework for structural reforms to be carried out under the EU's new Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth.

On the basis of the integrated guidelines, member states will draw up national reform programmes setting out in detail the actions to be taken. Particular emphasis will be given to efforts to meet national targets and to measures to remove the bottlenecks that constrain sustainable growth at national level.


The Europe 2020 growth strategy and the “integrated” broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) and employment guidelines show how different aspects of EU and government action are related. Therefore it is natural that they are discussed and adopted in parallel.

Ralf Grahn

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