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European Commission - Announcement

European Semester: Working for a stronger and more inclusive economic recovery

Brussels, 16 November 2016

Commission sets EU's economic and social priorities for the year ahead, confirms the need to move to a more positive fiscal stance for the euro area, and completes assessment of euro area Member States' Draft Budgetary Plans.

The European Commission presented today the European Semester Autumn package which sets out economic and social priorities for the EU, the euro area and the Member States' levels for the year ahead. This package marks the start of the European Semester 2017 and will be discussed with the other EU institutions and stakeholders to set the scene for the coming year. Once agreed, this guidance should be reflected in the Member States' policies, in particular in their national programmes to be presented next spring.

More concretely the package includes:

In the 2017 Annual Growth Survey, the Commission calls on the Member States to redouble their efforts along the so-called virtuous triangle of economic policy – relaunching investment, pursuing structural reforms and ensuring responsible fiscal policies. This year, emphasis is placed on the importance of ensuring social fairness as a way to stimulate a more inclusive growth, as well as on the need to strengthen competitiveness, innovation and productivity.

The Commission insists on the need to pursue policies supporting growth and convergence and remove bottlenecks to investment and job creation. Countries with current account deficits or high external debt should seek to raise productivity, while countries with current account surpluses should increase domestic demand and investment

In its Communication, the Commission stresses the need for a significantly more positive fiscal stance and that there is now a window of opportunity to achieve it. A positive fiscal stance refers both to the supportive, i.e. expansionary, direction that fiscal policy should take overall, and to the composition of the fiscal adjustment, in terms of the distribution of efforts across countries and of the types of expenditure and/or taxes behind it. This should contribute to a balanced policy mix, to support reforms and to strengthen the recovery through a fiscal expansion of up to 0.5% of GDP in 2017.

The Alert Mechanism Reportis an integral tool of the European Semester, which aims to prevent or address imbalances that hinder the smooth functioning of Member States' economies, of the euro area or of the EU as a whole, and to prompt the right policy responses (so-called Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure - MIP). The Alert Mechanism Reportidentifies Member States for which the Commission should undertake further in-depth reviews to assess whether they may be experiencing imbalances. It is based on the economic reading of a scoreboard of agreed indicators. For 2017, 13 countries will be covered by an In-Depth Review because imbalances were identified in the analysis emerging from this reading of the scoreboard

This year's report confirms that the recovery is increasingly job-intensive, also thanks to recent structural reforms in a number of Member States. Eight million new jobs have been created since 2013, out of which almost 5 million have come since the beginning of the mandate of this Commission. The EU unemployment rate kept falling and stood at 8.5% in September 2016 (10% in the euro area), reaching its lowest level since 2009 (since 2011 in the euro area). At the same time, the employment rate in the age group 20-64 is above that observed in 2008 for the first time, at 71.1% (second quarter of 2016). This means that the 75% employment rate target set by the Europe 2020 strategy for 2020 is within reach, if the current trend continues

The Commission has also completed its assessment of whether the euro area Member States' Draft Budgetary Plans for 2017 comply with the provisions of the Stability and Growth Pact. The Commission has found no Draft Budgetary Plans in particularly serious non-compliance. In several cases, the Commission finds that the planned fiscal adjustments fall short, or risk doing so, of what is required by the Stability and Growth Pact. 

For other issues on the Agenda of the Commission today, please see here.

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