Shaping EU policies: The European Semester

In 2010, the Europe 2020 Strategy broke new ground by establishing five concrete targets for delivering on smart, social and sustainable growth by 2020, which include:

  • reducing poverty by at least 20 million
  • achieving a 75% employment rate for women and men
  • reducing early school leaving to 10%
  • a 20% reduction on greenhouse gas emissions and increase in energy efficiency to 20%.

The ‘European Semester’, the annual coordination cycle with Member States, is the main instrument to deliver these targets, but it is primarily driven by economic governance goals.

Stakeholders including civil society and social organizations are supposed to be key partners in the delivery.

However, as the European Commission recognises, progress has been extremely limited:

  • 8 million more people are now in poverty (124 million), a shortfall of 28 million (in 2012). Very limited progress has been made on involving stakeholders, particularly of civil society and with low impact.
  • The Employment rate has declined to 68.4% leaving a shortfall of nearly 7%.
  • Early school leaving has reduced to 12.7% in 2012 leaving a shortfall of 2.7%.
  • There has been an 18% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2012, but national projections show 13 Member States will not achieve their national targets by 2020.

For the Semester Alliance members, delivery on the Europe 2020 targets, the development of a rights-based approach including progress on gender equality, through real dialogue with civil society, is crucial. Only in this way can we ensure a sustainable recovery a viable vision for the future of the EU, and restore democratic legitimacy and credibility.

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