The 2018 European Semester cycle of economic, fiscal and social policy coordination starts against the backdrop of robust economic activity in the euro area and the EU, record high employment levels and unemployment rates declining towards pre-crisis levels.
Today's package is based on the Commission's Autumn 2017 Economic Forecast and builds on the priorities of President Juncker's 2017 State of the Union address. It also reflects the recent proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights at the Gothenburg Social Summit.
2018 Annual Growth Survey
Building on previous guidance, and taking account of EU countries' different situations in the economic cycle, the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) calls on EU countries to boost investment as a way to support the expansion and to increase productivity and long-term growth.
Social fairness remains a crosscutting priority and the principles and rights of the European Pillar of Social Rights will be mainstreamed in the European Semester from now on.
Draft Joint Employment Report
The performance of EU countries is assessed on the basis of 14 headline indicators. The JER also takes into account the national policy reforms vis-à-vis the ambitions set by the Pillar.
The JER points to continued improvements in the labour market: around 8 million additional jobs have been created since the current Commission took office. The unemployment rate continues to fall and stood at 7.5% (8.9% in the euro area) in September 2017, the lowest level since 2008.
However, the labour market recovery is not reflected in wage growth. In a number of EU countries disposable incomes are still below pre-crisis levels.
Proposal for employment guidelines
The employment guidelines present common priorities and targets for the national employment policies and provide the basis for country-specific recommendations (CSRs).
This year's proposal aligns the text with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, with a view to improving Europe's competitiveness and making it a better place to invest, create quality jobs and foster social cohesion.
The Commission invites the Council to discuss the package and endorse the guidance offered today and it looks forward to a fruitful debate with the European Parliament on the policy priorities for the EU and euro area.