Following Van Rompuy’s proposals in December, the European Council will debate in June the Commission’s proposals for a social dimension to the EMU. As the EU enters its 5th year of crisis, the EU’s image is overwhelmingly identified with austerity, particularly in countries under the ‘Troika arrangements’.
As a result, EU popularity and legitimacy is at an all-time low. Steps are urgently needed to restore the balance between social and sustainable objectives and economic governance, if the EU is to revive trust in its Europe 2020 promises of a smart, sustainable and inclusive recovery based on democratic accountability and engagement.
European governance mechanisms do not merely exist to enforce budgetary and financial stability. They also need to hold Member States accountable to the broader social and sustainable goals embedded in the Europe 2020 strategy. Country-Specific Recommendations have a key role to play. Last year, Marije Cornelissen, MEP, and rapporteur for the Annual Growth Survey Opinion 2012, supported a pilot initiative to develop quick alternative proposals for Country-Specific Recommendations together with civil society organisations. These proposals were presented in a hearing in the Parliament to Commissioners Rehn and Andor, in June 2012.
In 2013 EASPD joined a cohalition of European organisations and networks that, together with their national members, elaborated a set of non-comprehensive proposals for alternative Country-Specific Recommendations. This was presented in a hearing on 14th May at the EP and it does provide a strong signal to European decision-makers that civil society stands ready to engage in this process, to provide alternative analysis and proposals to help the EU deliver on its broader social and sustainable objectives and gender equality.
A key recommendation is that the Commission ensures more active engagement of Civil Society and Social Partners in the NRPs, CSRs and whole European Semester. The partnership principle should be enforced through an obligatory code of guidance, monitored through the CSRs, reviewed in the Progress Report and Annual Growth Survey. A strong commitment to more democratic and accountable processes throughout the European semester might help to win back vital support for the Europe 2020 strategy during this critical period of instability.
Here you can find the press release on the event
Here you can find the report on Alternative Country-Specific Recommendations 2013-2014