In March, the Commission published its so-called “European Semester 2018 Winter Package”, i.e. its annual analysis of the economic and social situation in the Member States, including progress in implementing Country-Specific Recommendations and an assessment of possible imbalances.
Country Reports are analytical documents that provide an overview of the economic and social challenges in the Member States as well as policy action taken by them. The reports are a tool under the European Semester to monitor reforms and to point to issues facing Member States. For the first time, the Country Reports put a special emphasis on mainstreaming the priorities of the European Pillar of Social Rights, proclaimed in November 2017. Data from the Social Scoreboard are also used to keep track of employment and social performances, including in the housing sector.
The Country Reports will serve as a basis for the continuation of the dialogue with Member States and stakeholders at all levels, ahead of the presentation of national programmes in April and of the preparation of new Country-Specific Recommendations later this spring. The Country Reports also include policy highlights for all Member States, which are important for the countries in question or can serve as inspiration for others. Member States have been consulted on the analytical elements of the reports in advance of publication, also to give them the opportunity to check the accuracy of facts and figures. The final analysis is that of the Commission.
The Country Reports also include in-depth reviews for countries for which the Commission’s Alert Mechanism Report 2018 identified the need for such review, following a risk of macroeconomic imbalances. This means risks of macroeconomic developments which are adversely affecting, or have the potential to adversely affect, the proper functioning of the economy of a Member State or of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), or of the Union as a whole (excessive imbalances are severe imbalances that jeopardize or risk jeopardizing the proper functioning of the EMU). The reviews examine aspects such as the sustainability of Member States’ external accounts, savings and investment balances, effective exchange rates, export market shares, cost and non-cost competitiveness, productivity, private and public debt, housing prices, credit flows, financial systems, unemployment and other variables.
In the 2018 Alert Mechanism Report, published in November 2017, the Commission identified 12 Member States for in-depth reviews: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All 12 countries were found to experience imbalances or excessive imbalances also in 2017.
UIPI has papered a detailed Analysis of the Country Reports.