The European Commission issued its 2018 country-specific recommendations (CSRs), setting out its economic policy guidance for Member States for the next 12 to 18 months.
Europe’s economy is growing at its fastest pace in a decade, with record employment, recovering investment and improved public finances. According to the Commission’s 2018 Spring forecast, growth in the next two years will slow slightly but remain robust. The current favourable conditions should be used to make Europe’s economies and societies stronger and more resilient. The country-specific recommendations proposed build on the progress already made in recent years and aim to capitalise on the positive economic outlook to guide Member States to take further action.
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “This year’s recommendations have a greater than ever focus on employment, education and social issues. This shows the Commission’s determination to focus on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in all the Member States and improve working and living conditions for all European citizens.”
The recommendations focus on strengthening the foundations for sustainable and inclusive growth in the long term. They build on the comprehensive analysis carried out by the Commission in the latest Country Reports, which highlighted legacy issues in certain Member States arising from the financial crisis and challenges for the future.
This year, the recommendations dedicate special attention to social challenges, guided by the European Pillar of Social Rights proclaimed in November 2017. There is a particular focus on ensuring the provision of adequate skills, the effectiveness and adequacy of social safety nets and improving social dialogue.
Countries are also recommended to carry out reforms that prepare their workforces for the future, including future forms of work and increasing digitalisation; reduce income inequalities; and create employment opportunities, for young people in particular.
There has been a high implementation rate of reforms to promote job creation on permanent contracts and address labour market segmentation. On the other hand, recommendations in the area of health and long-term care and broadening the tax base have not yet been addressed to the same extent. More efforts are also needed to improve the inclusiveness and quality of education.
The Commission calls on the Council to adopt the country-specific recommendations, and on Member States to implement them fully and in a timely manner. EU ministers are expected to discuss the country-specific recommendations before EU Heads of State and Government are due to endorse them. It is then up to Member States to implement the recommendations by addressing them through their national economic and budgetary policies in 2018-2019.