The European Commission adopted on 7 April 2004 updates of the “Guidelines Package” as regards the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPGs) and the Employment Guidelines and Recommendations, whereas the Internal Market Strategy remains unchanged.
The BEPGs lay down the EU’s medium-term economic policy strategy. The guidelines focus on the contribution that economic policies can make to achieve the EU’s strategic Lisbon goal and are concentrated around:
growth and stability-oriented macroeconomic polices;
economic reforms to raise Europe’s growth potential; and
The BEPGs make both general and country-specific recommendations. The guidelines are multi-annual and a full review is foreseen for 2006. In the meantime, changes are only expected to take account of major new developments. In 2004, updates have been proposed to indicate the need for policy adjustment in the area of budgetary policies only to Germany, Greece, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
The main focus of the 2004 update is on the integration of the ten new Member States into the existing economic policy coordination framework. As the key economic challenges faced by the new Member States do not differ fundamentally from those of the present ones, the existing strategy is found appropriate. Therefore, the existing set of general guidelines remains valid and has been left unchanged. However, it is clear that the scale of some of the challenges is much greater as the unemployment rate and the budget deficit are, on average, both around double that of the EU-15. It is therefore crucial to find an appropriate balance between different policy requirements. Taking due account of the sizeable differences across the acceding countries, in terms of performance and prospects, Part II of the update presents country-specific recommendations to the individual acceding countries.
|ISBN 92-894-4959-4 (online)|