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#EuropeanSemesterAutumnPackage - Creating an economy that works for people and the planet




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The von der Leyen Commission has launched a new European Semester cycle, the first of its mandate. It presents an ambitious, rebooted growth strategy focused on promoting competitive sustainability to build an economy that works for people and the planet.

The Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy delivers on the vision set out in President Ursula von der Leyen's Political Guidelines. It sets out the economic and employment policy strategy for the EU, placing sustainability and social inclusion at the heart of the EU's economic policymaking, in line with the priorities enshrined in the European Green Deal, the Commission's new growth strategy. It aims to ensure that Europe remains the home of the world's most advanced welfare systems, becomes the first climate-neutral continent and is a vibrant hub of innovation and competitive entrepreneurship. It will give Europe the tools to strive for more when it comes to social fairness and prosperity. More broadly, the sustainable growth strategy will help the EU and its member states achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which the Commission is integrating into the European Semester for the first time.

An Economy that Works for People Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “A profound transformation of our economic model is under way. Climate change, digitalization and changing demographics require us to adapt our economic policy, so that Europe remains a competitive force on the world stage and does so in a way that's sustainable and fair. At the same time, we need EU countries to strengthen their defences against the global risks on the horizon. I invite countries with fiscal space to further boost investment and those with a high level of debt to bring it down.”

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “Starting today, we place the climate transition at the heart of our economic governance. Because when we say the European Green Deal is Europe's new growth strategy, we mean it. One of my top priorities in the first year of my mandate will be to integrate the UN's Sustainable Development Goals into the European Semester. It is vital that we make a success of this important change to European economic policymaking.”

Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit said: “The new strategy integrates the principles of fighting inequalities and the pursuit of upward economic and social convergence enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights. The number of people in work today is at a record high, but disparities persist. In a fast changing world and an economy where innovation is key, we have to facilitate better access to the labour market and invest more in skills for those who need to adapt to the digital and green transition, especially the most vulnerable. Social fairness must be integral to every part of this new workstream.”


The Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy encompasses four interrelated and mutually reinforcing dimensions to addresses long-term challenges. These dimensions should guide structural reforms, employment policies, investments and responsible fiscal policies across all Member States to deliver an economy that works for people and the planet. The four dimensions are:

  •   Environmental sustainability;
  •   productivity gains;
  •   fairness, and;
  •   macroeconomic stability.

The European Semester will place a stronger focus on environmental sustainability by providing specific guidance to member states on where structural reforms and investment towards a sustainable economic model are most needed. The policy guidance under the European Semester will also help to spur productivity gains: it will promote investment and structural reforms to foster research and innovation, improve access to finance, enhance the functioning of product and services markets, and remove bottlenecks in the business environment. Fairness should be safeguarded through the implementation of social policies to guarantee fair working conditions for all and to allow people to adapt to changing circumstances at a time of important transformations. Macroeconomic stability should be preserved by respecting the fiscal rules, while using the full flexibility built into them, addressing imbalances and completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

Further reports


The Recommendation on the economic policy of the eurozone calls on eurozone member states to take measures to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth, as well as to boost competitiveness. It also calls for differentiated fiscal policies as well as their further coordination in the framework of the Eurogroup in case of a worsening outlook.  The recommendation also calls for more progress in deepening the EMU, notably through the completion of Banking Union and Capital Market Union, which will also help to strengthen the international role of the euro. These actions, when taken together, will help to addresses common challenges for the eurozone as a whole.

The Alert Mechanism Report, a screening device for macroeconomic imbalances, recommends that 13 member states should undergo an “in-depth review” in 2020 to identify and assess the severity of possible macroeconomic imbalances. Member states need to continue to address the macroeconomic imbalances they are experiencing to prepare for long-term challenges and possible future shocks. The member states identified for these reviews are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden.

The proposal for a Joint Employment Report analyses the employment and social situation in Europe and highlights the areas in which progress has been made, and where more needs to be done. 241.5m people are now in work, unemployment in the EU is at a record low (6.3%), and labour market conditions are improving. However, gender inequality remains a substantial challenge, as does wage inequality; certain groups, in particular children and people with disabilities, are still at high risk of poverty or social exclusion; and youth unemployment is a serious concern in some member states.

The Single Market Performance Report aims to assess the results and achievements of the Single Market. It has been integrated into the Semester cycle for the first time to highlight the importance of implementing reforms that facilitate the smooth functioning of the Single Market. The report shows that goods markets present a high level of integration while services markets present the highest potential for further integration. Significant progress has also been achieved in the integration of energy markets, but cross-border energy trade and competition in energy markets must be improved. Ensuring high standards of environmental protection and product safety is a major component of the performance of the Single Market spanning over a broad range of economic activities. The delivery of the full potential of the Single Market depends on the implementation of structural reforms at national level that can help to establish effective competition and improve the business environment. The increasing integration of Single Market issues in the Semester will facilitate the implementation of these reforms.

The second annual monitoring report on the implementation of the 2018 Structural Reform Support Programme shows that the programme can significantly contribute to the efforts of the Member States' authorities to identify and overcome structural weaknesses in the design and implementation of reforms. In 2018, 146 requests from 24 member states were selected for funding from the programme. Of those, 93% relate directly to the strategic priorities of the EU in areas such as improving the operational capacity and efficiency of public administrations, modernising public financial management, reforming tax administrations and developing the digital economy.

Next steps

The European Council is invited to endorse the sustainable growth strategy presented today.

Member states should take account of the priorities identified by the Commission in its sustainable growth strategy in their national policies and strategies, as set out in their Stability or Convergence Programmes and their National Reform Programmes which they will submit next year. On that basis, the Commission will propose Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) as part of the European Semester Spring Package. The CSRs will be adopted by the member states in the Council. member states are thus ultimately responsible for their content and implementation.

President von der Leyen's Political Guidelines emphasized the importance of the European Parliament having a “louder voice” in economic governance. To this end, the Commission looks forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with the Parliament on the contents of this package and each subsequent step in the European Semester cycle.

More information

The European Semester Autumn 2019 Package: Questions & Answers

President von der Leyen's Political Guidelines

Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020

Euro area recommendation 2020

Alert Mechanism Report 2020

Proposal for a Joint Employment Report 2020

Single Market Performance Report

The second annual monitoring report on the implementation of the 2018 Structural Reform Support Programme

Examples of reform support provided by the Structural Reform Support Service

Autumn 2019 Economic Forecast

Autumn Fiscal Package

The European Semester


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Clashes break out in Brussels in protests over coronavirus restrictions




Police and protesters clashed in the streets of Brussels on Sunday (21 November) in demonstrations over government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, with police firing water cannon and tear gas at demonstrators throwing rocks and smoke bombs, witnesses said, write Christian Levaux, Johnny Cotton and Sabine Siebold, Reuters.

About 35,000 people took part in demonstrations, police said, which began peacefully before violence broke out.

Protesters wearing black hoods threw stones at police as they advanced with water cannon at the main junction in front of the European Union Commission headquarters, Reuters journalists said.

Facing up to the police lines, the protesters held hands and chanted "freedom". One protester was carrying a placard reading "when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty".

Police forces stand guard as people protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures near the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium November 21, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Protesters also threw smoke bombs and fireworks, the newspaper Le Soir reported. The situation calmed down later, police said.

Belgium tightened its coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday (17 November), mandating wider use of masks and enforcing work from home, as cases rose in the country's fourth COVID-19 wave. Read more.

There have been 1,581,500 infections and 26,568 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country of 11.7 million people since the pandemic began. Infections are increasing again, with 13,826 new cases reported on average each day.


Violence has also broken out in anti-restriction protests in Belgium's neighbour the Netherlands in recent days. On Friday, police in Rotterdam opened fire on a crowd.

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European Commission

NextGenerationEU: Commission receives payment request from Spain for €10 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Facility



The Commission has received the first payment request from Spain under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for a disbursement of €10 billion in financial support (net of pre-financing). Spain's overall recovery and resilience plan will be financed by €69.5 billion in grants. Payments under the RRF are performance-based and contingent on Spain implementing the investments and reforms outlined in its recovery and resilience plan. This first payment request relates to 52 milestones covering several reforms in the areas of sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, decarbonisation, connectivity, public administration, skills, education and social, labour and fiscal policy.

The Commission now has two months to assess the request. It will then send its preliminary assessment of Spain's fulfilment of the milestones and targets required for this payment to the Council's Economic and Financial Committee. More information on the process of the payment requests under the RRF is available in this Q&A. More information on the Spanish recovery and resilience plan is available here.

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'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King'



'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King' is a children's art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium.

The successful art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium in La Louvière, the birthplace of Surrealism in Belgium that ended on 24 October gave the opportunity to nearly 300 local primary and middle school students in just one week to depict their vision of friendship between China and Belgium.

On 17 October, during the opening ceremony, Françoise Ghiot, Laurent Wimlot, aldermen of La Louvière, and their guests from China and Belgium attended the event. Counsellor Yang Qing, wife of the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, also recorded a video for the inauguration of the event.

Counsellor Yang Qing said in her speech that she admired the exhibition held in La Louvière. Using pure and innocent artistic perspective, extraordinary creativity and imagination, the children have well defined the cultural elements of both countries. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium with children’s eyes, sincere feelings, those future ambassadors of friendship have expressed their visions of a better collaborative future between the two nations.


Ghiot said in her speech that she was very happy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium to see children’s paintings from China. The art exhibition opened a skylight of artistic exchange for local children.

This children's art exhibition was jointly curated by the city of La Louvière, the Nardone Gallery, and Yellow Vitamines. Through the LPGA (Little Painter Global International Art Exhibition), covering 40 cities and 500 aesthetic education training institutions in China, 5000 children’s work were collected and 200 were finally selected to focus on Belgium. With the innocent help of children's brushes, imagination and understanding, art and culture provided an ideal medium to understanding differences and strengthening the bond between China and Belgium.


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