Annual Growth Survey 2015: Calls for alleviating unemployment, deepening pension reforms and reforming social protection systems

The European Commission has set the stage for the 2015 European Semester by releasing its Annual Growth Survey (AGS). The Commission prioritises administrative simplification, employment through innovation and skills. While the focus of the AGS is on boosting investment, the Commission has put a focus on alleviating unemployment, pursuing pension reforms and ‘modernising’ social protection systems. The fight against poverty, a key target of the Europe 2020 Strategy, is not mentioned in the AGS.

In terms of labour market policies, the Commission’s focus is to stimulate recruitment by removing obstacles to job creation. The AGS calls for a reduction of taxes on labour and to reduce the segmentation of labour markets. Key areas to focus on are the development of skills, education and life-long learning systems. New sectors to stimulate employment should be the health sector, but also the green and digital sectors. For the Commission, workers should be provided with ‘modern’ levels of protection, including by adequate income protection for long-term unemployed workers alongside activating and enabling services.

On pension reforms, the Commission wishes to pursue pension reforms and to increasing the cross-national portability of pension rights. It wants member states to react to demographic ageing by raising pensionable ages and by linking them to life expectancy. The Commission also emphasises that pension systems need to remain adequate.

The Commission wishes to modernise social protection systems, most notably by having better targeted social policies, investing in quality childcare, job assistance, housing support and accessible health care. Improvements shall also be introduced by investment in eHealth.

The Commission also calls for a reform of the governance of the European Semester. It highlights the importance of the Europe 2020 mid-term review for bringing member states’ and EU policies on a common line. The Europe 2020 Strategy contains targets on reducing unemployment and poverty, as well as on improving education. Despite an increase of poverty from 117 million to 121 million since 2010, poverty is not mentioned as a priority area in the Annual Growth Survey.

The Annual Growth Survey sets out the Commission’s priorities for macro-economic coordination and introduces the 2015 European Semester. It is accompanied by a Joint Employment Report, which includes key indicators on the social performance of member states.

For questions on the European Semester, please contact Maciej Kucharczyk from the AGE Secretariat:

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