Is There Flexibility in the European Semester Process? Exploring Interactions between the EU and Member States within Post-Crisis Socio-Economic Governance
SIEPS Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, 2016:1
75 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2016
Post-crisis EU socio-economic governance has introduced new features to the coordination process, mainly aimed at better national compliance with EU fiscal and economic targets. Accordingly, these new measures have been labelled as ‘stricter’ or ‘strengthened’ economic governance. While stricter economic governance implies less flexibility in the coordination process, the question is the degree to which this has indeed been the case. Do the EU and the member states still have the leeway to develop alternative policies, to learn from practice or to suggest new targets? This contribution answers this question in view of important socio-economic dossiers: unemployment, wages and pensions. These are all topics in the European Semester’s Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), Macro-economic imbalances procedure (MIP), and Europe 2020 Strategy. The contribution analyses EU-level steering within the European Semester, as well as the reactions of four member states to EU targets between 2009 and 2014: France, Germany, Poland and Spain. Overall, both the EU level coordination and the member state response show that, on the one hand, coordination has become more strict, and on the other hand, the flexibility for members states to develop alternative policies has remained part of the socio-economic coordination process.
Keywords: European Semester, European governance, Social Europe, EU economic governance
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