2019 European Semester crucial for getting the funding priorities right
The 2019 European Semester cycle of economic and social policy coordination has officially been launched with the release of the 2019 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) on 21 November. It sets out the general economic and social priorities for the European Union for the coming year, highlighting major trends and identifying priorities for inclusive and sustainable growth. Among the former, it states that the risk of poverty or social exclusion remains a challenge in particular for children. With regard to the latter, the European Commission wants Europe to take a long-term view and increase its socio-economic resilience.
The AGS mentions children in five instances, looking at the particular risk of poverty and social exclusion for vulnerable groups, and recommending a wider access to high-quality childcare services to enable women to enter or stay in employment – focusing on high quality as a first step towards success in education and employment later in life.
The priorities outlined in the 2019 AGS are ensuring:
· investment in research and innovation, in education, training and skills and infrastructure;
· reforms that increase productivity growth, inclusiveness and institutional quality;
· macro-financial stability and sound public finances
Assessing and boosting investment in key areas is what the European Semester and the EU budget have in common, which is why the AGS announced that the 2019 cycle will have a strong complementarity to EU cohesion policy beyond 2020. Concretely, the country reports prepared by the European Commission per member state will have a new annex identifying investment needs – perhaps even by sector and region - for the purposes of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund for the period 2021-27.
The Annual Growth Survey builds on the most recent data of the Autumn 2018 Economic Forecast and the messages emerging from the system which monitors macroeconomic imbalances in Member States called the Alert Mechanism Report (AMR).
The AGS also builds on the draft Joint Employment Report (JER) which presents an annual overview of the main employment and social developments in the EU as well as the implementation of the Employment Guidelines. Interestingly, the JER 2019 monitors Member States' performance in relation to the Social Scoreboard accompanying the European Pillar of Social Rights. The final adoption by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) is foreseen in March 2019.
Eurochild monitors the European Semester and produces a yearly report assessing the impact of economic and social policies on children per country. The 2018 Eurochild Report on the European Semester is available here.