This week, on Tuesday 17 December 2019, the Commission kicked-of the new Cycle of the European Semester with the publishing of the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) – formerly called the Annual Growth Survey. The main feature of the document is the climate transition, which according to Paolo Gentiloni’s, Commissioner-designate for Economy, “is at the heart of our economic governance”.
Alongside that primordial goal, the Commission has established other main targets that will be guiding economic policymaking, such as social fairness, the promotion of macroeconomic stability and the strengthening and further deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. Another central aspect that has been strongly emphasized in the ASGS is the challenge of preparing the European economy for the digital age, which will necessarily imply not only heavy investment to secure a leadership position internationally, but also getting our employers and workers ready to face the multiple transformations that the labour market will be undergoing soon.
All of those guidelines are indispensable and will provide the very foundation behind the EU’s industrial strategy, which will focus on the fortification of our Single Market, boosting innovation, fomenting research and development and, consequently, generating productivity gains and enhancing our competitiveness.
Another remarkable component is the incorporation, for the first time, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into the European Semester, which reinforces the Commission’s commitment with social inclusion. Along the same lines, the ASGS also highlights the need to fully implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, which can have an extremely positive impact on the functioning of social dialogue, both at the national and the EU level.
In order to accomplish the Commission’s goals, all those capital features must work complementarily. The whole cycle of the European Semester is meant to provide support for Member States in the materialisation of those targets, especially given the current economic outlook, marked by subdued growth performances and particularly low interest rates.
Amidst a time of deep transformations, the EU Semester can be a fundamental coordination mechanism, ensuring stability and sound public finances, whilst concomitantly, stimulating the necessary investment in strategic fields. Therefore, its proper implementation is vital for the thriving of our Single Market and its pioneer sustainable growth model.