Stefan Clauwaert, the ETUI’s legal expert, has analysed the EU Commission’ s country-specific recommendations for 2018-2019, and argues that they show the clear influence of the European Pillar of Social Rights. While this is a good sign, he argues that in several crucial areas they do not live up to the promise shown at the time that the CSRs were originally introduced.
The ETUI’s analysis of the European Commission’s latest set of Country-specific Recommendations (CSRs) for 2018-2019, has been published. While this set of CSRs, published on 23 May 2018, is the eighth produced under the European Semester system since its launch in 2011, it is the first issued since the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) in November 2017. As a result, this years’ CSRs were much awaited as the Commission had already on several occasions indicated that the European Semester, and in particular the CSRs, were going to serve as the main vehicle for the implementation of the 20 Principles in the EPSR.
This year, the Commission delivered a total of 73 recommendations to 27 member states (except Greece which is currently under a stability support programme) as opposed to 78 recommendations in 2017 and 89 in 2016.
Out of those 73 recommendations, no less than 46 (or 63%) of them contain one or more recommendations in the social field. A large majority of them indeed focus on the three main challenges for reforms, as identified by the Commission for 2018-2019, namely: 1) ensuring the provision of adequate skills (basic, labour market-relevant and digital skills); 2) ensuring the effectiveness and adequacy of social safety nets; and, new for this year, 3) improving social dialogue and the involvement of social partners in policy design and legislative processes at national level.
In this sense most of the 2018 CSRs are to be welcomed, but, as will be highlighted in the ETUI’s analysis, in several fields that are crucial for the trade union movement, like (higher) wages, reducing precarious employment and more of both private and public investment, they only partially meet the expectations that were created following the adoption of the EPSR.
Some progress has again been made and we hope that the Commission will continue in the same direction in the coming cycles, so that the implementation of the EPSR via the Semester, along with much-needed legislative initiatives in the social field, may indeed bear fruit and help to improve workers’ and citizens’ social rights across Europe.
More detailed analysis of the 2018 recommendations will be undertaken following their final adoption by the Council end of June and will be soon made available on the ETUI website.
Stefan Clauwaert is Senior Researcher at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI). He was involved in setting up and coordinating the ETUC trade union legal experts’ network NETLEX (until 2007) as well as –since 1999– participation as expert to the ETUC delegation in all the EU cross-sectoral social dialogue negotiations. He also represents the ETUC in the framework of the Council of Europe Social Charter activities.