Since 2011 the European Commission undertakes detailed an annual analysis of EU Member States' programmes of economic reforms followed by country-specific recommendations - the so-called 'European Semester'.
The Commission first adopts an Annual Growth Survey setting out the priorities for economic and budgetary policies for the next twelve months, with a focus both on growth-drivers and on measures for fiscal and financial stability. All five chapters of the 2012 Survey, adopted in November 2011, focus on ways to boost growth and create more jobs. The Survey was the basis of the economic policy guidance issued by the March 1-2 2012 European Council.
Taking this guidance into account, the Member States present and discuss their medium-term budgetary strategies through Stability and Convergence Programmes and, at the same time, draw up National Reform Programmes setting out the action they will undertake in areas such as employment, research, innovation, energy and social inclusion. These two documents are sent in April to the European Commission for assessment.
The Commission then makes tailored Country-Specific Recommendations to each Member State in May that focus on growth-driving measures. These Recommendations outline the urgent structural reforms Member States should take to enhance the potential for growth and job creation in areas like product and labour markets, pensions, education and tax systems.