EU countries lax on implementing economic and fiscal recommendations

4 Sep 20

Just one-quarter of recommendations made by the EU to member states were fully or substantially implemented in seven years, leading to slow progress in areas such as poverty alleviation, auditors have found.

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European Commission building

The European Commission building

The European Court of Auditors criticised member states for their lacklustre efforts during the period 2011-18, but also said the way country-specific recommendations are formulated needs reform.

Each year, the European Commission proposes actions it feels each country should take as part of the ‘European Semester’, a programme of economic and fiscal coordination within the union set up in the wake of the global financial crisis.

These recommendations typically concern structural reforms that encourage growth and employment, sustainable fiscal policies and the prevention of “excessive macroeconomic imbalances”.

“Through the European semester, the Commission provided a sound analysis of member states’ economic progress and proposed relevant country-specific recommendations,” said Alex Brenninkmeijer, the ECA member responsible for the report.

“But it should strengthen the focus on the low rate of implementation of recommendations in general. In the past 10 years, more attention could have been given to areas such as poverty alleviation and R&D.”

The report identified that 26% of recommendations had been fully or substantially implemented, with 44% seeing some progress and 30% with little or no progress made whatsoever.

Progress towards achieving a set of goals known as ‘Europe 2020’ was generally good, the report said, with strong performance in areas such as employment, energy and education.

But the target regarding poverty alleviation will not be achieved, for which the ECA blamed slow (or non-) implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.

The number of people at risk of poverty in the EU rose from 116 million in 2008 to 122 million in 2012, after which the number began to fall, reaching 109 million in 2018 – but much higher than the 2020 target of 96 million.

However, the ECA also said the Commission could have made more direct recommendations to some countries in this area.

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