European Semester Package

The Annual Growth Survey (AGS) sets out the general economic and social priorities for the EU and offers policy guidance for the following year. The 2019 AGS comes in a context of sustained, but less dynamic economic growth in Europe. This provides an opportunity to implement the reforms needed to address pressing challenges, which is even more urgent given rising global uncertainty and possible internal risks. These include:
- delivering high-quality investment and targeting investment gaps in research and innovation, in education, training and skills and infrastructure;
- focusing on reforms that increase productivity growth, inclusiveness and institutional quality;
- ensuring macro-financial stability and sound public finances.

The so-called "six-pack" legislation adopted in 2011 introduced a system to monitor broader economic developments, to detect early on problems such as credit and property bubbles, issues in external sustainability or falling competitiveness. The Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) is integrated in the European Semester and is kicked-off by an Alert Mechanism Report (AMR) which identifies Member States for which the Commission should undertake in-depth reviews to assess whether they are experiencing macroeconomic imbalances. The analysis in the AMR is based on the economic reading of a scoreboard of agreed indicators. The 2019 AMR finds that the correction of macroeconomic imbalances in the EU, including the easing of some persisting challenges in the financial sector, is progressing on the back of sustained, but moderating, growth. On the basis of the analyses in the Alert Mechanism Report (AMR), it is proposed that 13 Member States should be covered by an in-depth review in 2019. As is customary in this procedure, these include each of the Member States identified as having imbalances in the previous round of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP): Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. In addition to these Member States, Greece and Romania will also be subject to IDRs. The Commission will present the in-depth reviews as part of the Country Reports to be published in early 2019.

The Joint Employment Report (JER) provides an annual overview of the main employment and social developments in the EU. In addition, the Joint Employment Report 2019 monitors Member States' performance in relation to the Social Scoreboard accompanying the European Pillar of Social Rights. The current draft version, presented by the Commission, will be discussed with the Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee, with a view to final adoption by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) in March 2019. The main finding is that economic recovery of recent years has been particularly job intensive. Unemployment levels are reaching historic lows. The number of people in employment has reached the highest level ever recorded. Particularly steady progress is being made in increasing employment rates of women and elderly workers. The total number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion has fallen below pre-crisis levels. However, not all Member States and groups within society are reaping the full benefits of the current positive economic environment. Unemployment remains unacceptably high in a number of Member States. Labour market integration remains difficult for specific groups, including the low-skilled workers, the youth, people with disabilities and people with a migrant background.