Commission reviews Member States' progress on their economic priorities and outlines EU plan to counter US trade restrictions on steel and aluminium
European Semester Winter Package
The European Commission published today its annual analysis of the economic and social situation in 27 Member States (all Member States except Greece, which is subject to a stability support programme), including progress in implementing country-specific recommendations and an assessment of possible imbalances. For 12 Member States, the Reports include also an in-depth review – a detailed analysis of macroeconomic imbalances.
The analysis presented in the Country Reports shows that the economic recovery, together with the reforms carried out in many parts of Europe, has contributed to improving the labour market and social context in Europe. Unemployment is at a ten-year low and almost back to pre-crisis levels, investment is picking up and public finances continue to improve. The share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion has decreased to pre-crisis levels. However, remaining vulnerabilities, such as the high level of public and private debt, need to be overcome to safeguard the sustainability and inclusiveness of the current economic growth.
According to the Commission's analysis, today's economic conditions call for further strengthening the foundations of Europe's economies. Further reforms are needed to make them more resilient to future shocks.
This year's Country Reports also look for the first time at the priorities of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was recently proclaimed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. The European Pillar of Social Rights serves as a compass towards better working and living conditions across the EU.
Today, the Commission also adopted the 2018 Work Programme for the Structural Reforms Support Programme that will provide support to Member States to carry out reforms, especially those prioritised in the Country-Specific Recommendations. In 2018, more than 140 projects will be supported in 24 Member States.
The next step for Member States is to present their economic and social policy priorities in their national reform programmes and stability and/or convergence programmes (setting out budgetary priorities) by mid-April in the light of the challenges identified, also taking into account the priorities of the 2018 Annual Growth Survey and the recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area. The Commission recommends that these programmes be drawn up with the support of National Parliaments and of all key stakeholders, such as social partners, regional and local authorities, and civil society organisations as appropriate. The Commission will propose a new set of Country-Specific Recommendations in May.
EU plan to respond to US trade restrictions on steel and aluminium
The College of Commissioners also discussed the EU's response to the possible US import restrictions for steel and aluminium announced on 1 March. The EU stands ready to react proportionately and fully in line with the World Trade Organisation rules in case the US measures are formalised and affect the EU's economic interests. The College gave its political endorsement to the proposal presented by President Jean-Claude Juncker, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström.
Following President Juncker's tour to the Western Balkans last week, the President debriefed the College together with High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini on the outcome of this mission.
European Semester Winter Package Press Material
7 March 2018