The Council’s Social Policy Committee and the Employment Committee have adopted a joint opinion on the Europe 2020 Strategy’s mid-term review during their meeting on 16 October. The Committee recognises the importance of the targets on poverty reduction and on unemployment, even if there has been only regress on these targets.
The Committees affirmed that, while budgetary discipline is important, it should not go against social objectives. The Council quotes social impact assessments as an appropriate tool to enhance this coherence. The Committees also stressed the importance of social investment as a growth-enhancing factor, calling for investment in human capital, labour market participation and protection against risks.
Don’t lower the targets, but renew the flagships
In the opinion of the Committees, the headline targets should not be lowered, as this would be seen as a lack of ambition. However, the Committee calls on the member states to set intermediate targets and to review their national targets in order to maintain momentum.
The flagship initiatives are however criticised for showing no added value. Particularly the Annual Convention of the European Platform Against Poverty should be modified to ensure the visibility of the Strategy.
European Semester: put the Employment and Social Policy Council on an equal footing with ECOFIN
The Committees uphold that the EPSCO, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) should have primary responsibility for the European Semester in an ‘equitable partnership’ with ECOFIN, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council. The Committees affirm that an annual cycle of Country-Specific Recommendations is important to maintain pressure, but call for an improved basis on evidence and priorities.
The Social Policy Committee and the Employment Committee are entities under the EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO). The Council agrees on the country-specific recommendations emanating from the European Semester, alongside the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN). The European Semester is the main tool to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy, whose social objectives include to reduce the number of people at risk at poverty by 20 million and to raise the employment rate to 75% by 2020.
You can read the whole statement here: https://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=ST%2013809%202014%20INIT
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