Member States did not make enough efforts to act on country-specific recommendations made by the Council of the EU between 2011 and 2018, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). They have addressed only about a quarter of the recommendations fully or substantially, while there has been limited or no progress on almost a third of the recommendations. Although the EU has made broad progress towards most of its long-term fiscal targets for 2020, it is lagging behind on poverty alleviation and research and development (R&D). Against the backdrop of the political agreement reached by the European Council in July 2020, the auditors also stress the need to reform the way country-specific recommendations are formulated and implemented.
The European Semester is an annual cycle of economic and fiscal coordination in the EU. Its outputs are country-specific recommendations the Council issues to each Member State at the Commission’s proposal. The auditors assessed whether the Commission’s application of procedures to strengthen surveillance of Member State policies had been effective. They checked the application of these procedures in detail for Austria, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands.
“Through the European Semester, the Commission provided a sound analysis of Member States’ economic progress and proposed relevant country specific recommendations,” said Alex Brenninkmeijer, the ECA Member responsible for the report. “But it should strengthen the focus on the low rate of implementation of recommendations in general. In the past 10 years, more attention could have been given to areas such as poverty alleviation and R&D.”
Press Release: European Semester: Member States must address country-specific recommendations better, say EU auditors