The European Semester annual cycle is launched in November of each year with the publication of the European Commission’s Annual Growth Survey which sets out the general annual reform priorities needed to promote economic growth and stability. Three months later (around February), countries publish their National Reform Programmes. Then six months later (around May), the European Commission responds to the national reform programmes with Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs). This year, as in previous years, the Commission recommends family-friendly measures such as supporting women’s employment, further developing early childhood services, addressing the gender pension gap, the gender pay gap, and more. Here is a quick overview.
- Czech Republic: “Raise the attractiveness of the teaching profession and take measures to increase the inclusion of disadvantaged children, including Roma, in mainstream schools and pre-schools. Remove the obstacles to greater labour market participation by under-represented groups, particularly women.”
- Germany: “Increase incentives for later retirement and reduce disincentives to work for second earners.”
- Spain: “Address gaps and disparities in minimum income schemes and improve family support schemes, including access to quality child-care and long-term care.”
- Estonia: “Ensure the provision and accessibility of high quality public services, especially social services, at local level, inter alia by adopting and implementing the proposed local government reform. Adopt and implement measures to narrow the gender pay gap, including those foreseen in the Welfare Plan.”
- Ireland: “Expand and accelerate the implementation of activation policies to increase the work intensity of households and address the poverty risk of children. Pursue measures to incentivise employment by tapering the withdrawal of benefits and supplementary payments. Improve the provision of quality, affordable full-time childcare.”
- Austria: “Improve the labour market participation of women. Take steps to improve the educational achievements of disadvantaged young people, in particular those from a migrant background.”
- Romania: “Take action to prevent early school leaving and increase the provision of quality education, in particular among Roma. Adopt the equalisation of the pension age for men and women.”
- Slovak Republic: “Improve activation measures for the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups, including individualised services and targeted training. Facilitate the employment of women, in particular by extending the provision of affordable, quality childcare. Improve educational outcomes by making the teaching profession more attractive and by increasing the participation of Roma children from early childhood in mainstream education.”
- United Kingdom: “Further improve the availability of affordable, high-quality, full-time childcare.”
It is now up to COFACE and its members to analyse the potential of these CSRs, understand how they can be translated into policies and services to support families, and encourage national governments to respond appropriately to these recommendations coming from the European Union.