Cities and regions call for a more bottom-up European Semester process  
Cities and regions call for a more bottom-up European Semester process

Members of the European Committee of the Regions adopt Code of Conduct for the involvement of local and regional authorities in the European Semester

During the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) Rob Jonkman (NL/ECR) presented his outlines of a Code of Conduct to make the European Semester more effective and increase its ownership on the ground. The opinion adopted in unanimity on 11 May calls for a territorial dimension to be included in the key documents of the European Semester and for a structured and regular involvement of local and regional authorities in its planning and implementation.

In the highly integrated economic environment of the EU, no country can successfully set its economic policy in complete isolation from other member states. Since 2011, therefore, the European Semester is the main coordination tool for Member States to align their budgetary and economic policies to the policy priorities agreed at EU level. Although recently revamped, the Semester still faces a lack of ownership on the ground which undermines its effectiveness, says Rob Jonkman (NL/ECR), Member of the Executive Council of Opsterland.

"Over 40 per cent* of the 2016 Country-specific Recommendations could not be fully implemented without the active role of local and regional authorities, who are also responsible for over 50 per cent of public investment. Involving them in the European Semester process as full partners will not only increase their commitment to implement but will also help to set the right goals taking local and regional opportunities, challenges and disparities into account", said Jonkman.

The CoR opinion suggests that:

  • a sound territorial analysis is included in the main documents of the European Semester, the Annual Growth Survey and the National Reform Programmes (NRP), reflecting regional disparities and the acknowledgement of the role of local and regional authorities in implementing Country-specific Recommendations (CSR)
  • Member states put in place their own standing arrangements of the participation of their local and regional authorities along the whole Semester process. While there is no one-size-fits-all recipe, Member states should ensure that the local and regional authorities are given the opportunity to review and comment on the Country Reports and CSRs and take part in the preparation and implementation of the NRPs
  • a structured dialogue takes place between the European commission and the umbrella organisations representing local and regional authorities during the country visits and at the beginning of the Semester
  • the CoR and the European Parliament cooperate in monitoring the territorial dimension of the European Semester

The Opinion further recommends that the EU institutions develop the actual content and wording of the Code of Conduct in partnership, based on the elements presented by the CoR as well as on the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity, ensuring that there is full scope for the country-level provisions to be adapted to the specific national and sub-national contexts.


*CoR study: 2017 European Semester - Territorial Analysis of the Country Reports and accompanying Communication

You can download pictures of the plenary session on the CoR flickr gallery

Carmen Schmidle
Tel. +32 (0)2 282 2366