The report, unveiled at a seminar in the European Parliament, examined how the semester results tallied with the EU’s 2020 strategy.
The findings showed that the EU will miss its 75% employment target by up to 2.6%, fall short of its target of 3% expenditure of GDP on research and that member states will fail to attain its 2020 goal of a 20% improvement in energy efficiency.
Flagships have disappeared over the horizon
In addition education and poverty targets will also be missed, these targets are not implemented by all countries and are not comprehensive enough, the report says.
It claims that the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey (AGS) uses too many benchmarks, and that there are too many overlaps and inconsistencies in its contents.
The consolidation of public finances has become the only serious priority, according to the report’s compilers, who said that the AGS sidelines the 2020 strategy, scarcely mentioning education, climate change and energy targets.
The EU’s seven 2020 ‘flagships’ have completely disappeared from view in the AGS, they say.
There is no internal consistency in the AGS, the report finds, claiming that top performers in some categories – such as Sweden and the Netherlands in education – are treated equally with laggard countries, such as Ireland and Slovakia.
It claims that the Council, which represents the 27 EU member states, dilutes its recommendations and in some cases deletes them from the final report for political purposes, such as references to congestion in the Netherlands.
Dangerous democratic deficit
The report further claims that the 'Euro Plus Pact' for economic policy coordination and AGS have all but eclipsed the 2020 strategy.
Moreover, both are being implemented with no direct parliamentary involvement, either at European or national level, and no liaison with social partners or trades unions, storing up a huge "democratic deficit" that will block further necessary reforms of economic governance in the eurozone.
The report makes various recommendations, including a call for the 2020 strategy to be made legally binding and for the AGS to be renamed and wrested from the strong influence of the European Commission's directorate for economic and financial affairs (DG ECFIN). The report claims that DG ECFIN’s control over the European semester for economic policy coordination should be broken and that each Commission directorate with a relevance to the 2020 strategy should be given input into the semester proposals.
“The Commission doesn't care about the objectives it sets for itself,” said Belgian Green MEP Philippe Lamberts.
A Commission official attending the meeting said that the report was interesting, that the EU executive would consider its recommendations, and that reforms could be brought into the implementation of the next semester.