The European Semester was introduced in 2010 as a mechanism of economic and fiscal policy coordination, bringing together reporting under the Europe 2020 Strategy with reporting under the Stability and Growth Pact.Given the economic and financial context over the past three years, ensuring a successful exit from the economic crisis has been the dominant focus of the European Semester process to date. Although some environmental issues are covered in country-specific recommendations (CSRs), in particular environmental tax reform, energy (and electricity) and transport infrastructure, renewable energy and energy efficiency, better energy market design, and progress towards GHG emission reduction targets; others such as biodiversity, recycling, eco-innovation, air pollution, water management, and waste are side-lined or entirely absent.
The narrow focus of the European Semester process to date is perhaps not surprising given the overarching political priorities of recent years. However, the European Semester is a tool to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy which includes climate change, energy and resource efficiency related objectives. The focus of the process to date has ignored these wider objectives which are also firmly embedded in the EU environmental acquis. Thus, there is scope for further ‘greening’ the European Semester process to better support environmental objectives as set out below:
Text adapted from the "Key Messages" chapter of the report.