The 2016 CSRs were devised under the so-called streamlined Semester that was first implemented in 2015.
It is a good move that they put a greater emphasis on the objective to achieve, while leaving the definition of the measures needed to attain it at the discretion of national authorities.
In this context, I would like to ask three questions, the first one about investment.
Macroeconomic reasons have played a role in depressing both private long-term investments (because of insufficient expected returns) and public ones (because fiscal consolidation led public administrations to prioritise social and other short-term expenses).
Perhaps more attention should be paid to the microeconomic obstacles to investment (arising when inadequate public governance, a challenging business environment and poor quality of the public administration at the different levels discourage public and private investments). But will this be enough?
I doubt it.
Despite EFSI, despite the structural funds, the big investment gap both at public and private levels has become endemic in the single market.
Yet there is a consensus across the political spectrum about the need to enhance investment.
Do you agree that we need new policy proposals in the pipeline that would really help to increase private and public investment across Europe?
Meanwhile on the social front, for 2016 the total number of discrete employment and social recommendations contained in the CSRs is 114, compared to 118 last year.
Given that there are 13 fewer CSRs in total this year than last, it is clear that employment and social considerations continue to play a prominent role in the Semester as well as the Europe 2020 strategy.
The area most frequently covered by a recommendation is that of skills, education and training – 16 member states receive a CSR covering this area, up from 14 member states in 2015.
Which is fine.
However the real tragedy on the social front is that the 2020 goal for poverty will not only be missed but the Commission is accepting that in 2020, the situation will be worse than at the point when the 2020 programme was launched.
So my second question is this: is it not appropriate that the fight against poverty be given total priority in the formulation of CSRs with a view to at least not allowing poverty in Europe to become an accepted state of affairs?
And finally my third question relates to the manner by which country specific recommendations are becoming part of our economic management culture.
The proportion of fully/substantially implemented CSRs has more than halved over the 2012-2015 semester cycles based on the European Commission’s own assessment (11 percent in 2012 compared to 4 per cent in 2015).
At the same time, the percentage of recommendations where limited to no progress was registered rose from nearly 30 per cent in 2012 to more than 50 per cent in 2015.
These results would point to a lower commitment to implement the recommendations by member states.
Part of the problem in my view is that national Parliaments are still not really being involved in the process, though attempts have been made to correct this.
So my third question is as follows: does any prospect exist of re-engineering the CSR process to ensure that national parliaments become an integral and organic part of the adoption process in a meaningful way?