Cities and regions key to strengthen economic recovery and undertake structural reforms, new report shows
The role of local and regional authorities and the awareness of territorial concerns in addressing economic challenges are growing. This is the conclusion of a new analysis by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) showing that 75% of the Country-specific Recommendations are related to the territory.
The CoR published the report on the occasion of the CoR commission meeting for economic policy (ECON) on 22 June. It supports its call for a Code of Conduct for the stronger involvement of cities and regions in the European Semester.
Each year, the Commission undertakes a detailed analysis of each Member State's outlook and challenges for budgetary, macroeconomic and structural reforms in the framework of the European Semester process. It then provides EU governments with Country-specific Recommendations (CSR) for the next 12-18 months in May/June, which the CoR's Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform analyses yearly from the perspective of the local and regional authorities.
More than three quarters of the 2017 CSRs are territory-related
In 2017, 59 out 78 (76%) CSRs addressed to the Member States were territory-related – i.e. addressing challenges which have a differentiated impact in different kinds of territory and which concern sub-national levels of government. 62% of all CSRs were directly addressed to local and regional authorities (up from 23% in 2015). Territory-related CSRs deal mostly with labour market, education and social policies (36%), as well as public administration and the business environment (26%).
"After the Juncker Commission decided to bring down the number of recommendations and focus on the most pressing economic issues, the ratio of territory-related recommendations rose by almost 50% between 2014 and 2017. This trend confirms that regions and cities are essential to addressing urgent economic challenges like removing territorial obstacles to investment (55% of all CSRs), and modernising public administration (53% of all CSRs). Local and regional authorities are important partners in the European Semester, not only because of the national division of powers but also because of their knowledge of and expertise in local conditions and institutions, closeness to citizens and the importance of political ownership for local development", said Michel Delebarre (FR/PES), Political Coordinator of the CoR Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform.
2017 CSRs support the stronger involvement of local and regional authorities in the European Semester
In October 2016, the European Parliament endorsed the CoR's proposal that a Code of Conduct be adopted to include local and regional authorities in the European Semester in a structured way. In May 2017, Commissioner Günther Oettinger told the CoR plenary session that the European Semester should explicitly include regional aspects.
"EU Institutions are increasingly acknowledging the importance of giving more room to territorial aspects in the European Semester. Involving local and regional authorities in the process as full partners will not only increase their commitment to implementation but will also help to set the right goals, taking local and regional opportunities, challenges and disparities into account. It's time to make this happen", said Rob Jonkman (NL/ECR), CoR rapporteur on the "Code of Conduct for the involvement of local and regional authorities in the European Semester".
The role of the local and regional authorities in implementing the CSRs makes it even more important that the Code of Conduct is implemented by the EU institutions and, at country level, that it is flexibly adapted to every country's specific situation. The CoR is currently presenting the Code of Conduct to the European Commission and the European Parliament.
Since 2010 the European Semester has been the main tool for economic and fiscal policy coordination between the EU and its Member States. It starts every year in November when the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) is published by the European Commission. The AGS provides general guidelines for Member States' National Reform Programmes (NRP) and Stability or Convergence Programmes which are submitted in the spring. This forms the basis for draft Country-specific Recommendations (CSR) issued by the EC in May/June, covering all relevant policy areas, namely fiscal, macroeconomic and structural reforms. After extensive consultation and endorsement by the European Council in June, the ECOFIN Council adopts the final CSRs in July, officially closing the European Semester. The analysis of the CoR serves as a basis for the CoR's political contributions to the European Semester.
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