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Health and the European Semester

4 November, 2021

The European Semester is the EU’s annual cycle of economic and social policy coordination. The Semester affects health care, early childhood education, unemployment, as well as social transfer and pension systems.

Similarly, the Semester is also a tool and a mechanism which can assist health agencies in their work to improve public health and act of the determinants of health. Therefore, it is essential they understand what it is and how to work with it.

For every Semester cycle, EuroHealthNet analyses the Semester from a health perspective and provides support to organisations affected by it.

An introduction to the European Semester and its relevance for health is available in this article in EuroHealthNet Magazine.

EuroHealthNet’s analyses of the European Semester and Health

EuroHealthNet produces annual in-depth analyses of the European Semester and health for health agencies and people involved in the semester process:

EuroHealthNet also works on the semester with other organisations and alliances, such as the EU Alliance for Investing in Children. Find all of our work on the Semester here.


A quick guide to the European Semester

Introduced in 2010, the European Semester aims to help Member States to coordinate their economic policies and address common challenges. The Semester consists of five components:


  1. Beginning in November, the cycle commences when the European Commission publishes the Autumn Package. This includes The Annual Growth Survey. The survey sets out the EU’s general economic priorities for the following year, and includes policy guidance for national governments.
  2. In February, Country Reports are published. These reports address economic and social policy issues in each country.
  3. In March/April, Member States submit National Reform Programmes which explain the specific policies they will implement to boost jobs and growth and comply with fiscal rules. Additionally, they submit three-year budget plans.
  4. In May/June the European Commission issues Country Specific Recommendations which are tailored economic and policy recommendations.
  5. Then, from August-October recommendations are incorporated and policy is put into practice.

Key terms to understand the European Semester and Health

Annual Growth Survey: This document sets out the general economic priorities for the EU whilst offering EU governments policy guidance for the following year. Published by the commission each November along with a number of other documents as part of the Autumn Package.

Country Reports: These country reports cover all areas of macroeconomic or social importance and take stock of each country’s budgetary situation. They assess the progress made by each EU country in addressing the issues identified in the previous year’s EU recommendations.

Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs): Provide tailored policy guidance for each country accordingly on how to boost jobs and growth whilst maintaining sound public finances.

National Reform Programmes: Provide details about the specific policies each country will implement to boost jobs and growth and prevent/correct imbalances, with concrete plans to comply with the EU’s country-specific recommendations and general fiscal rules. Published by Member States.  Additionally, three year budget plans are presented here.

The European Pillar of Social Rights: 20 principles for a fairer, more inclusive European Union. Established in 2017. Delivered by the EU, Member States, regions, cities, and civil society.

The European Structural and Investment Funds: Support investment in job creation, and a sustainable and healthy European Economy and environment. Furthermore, five funds are included which can be used to address issues raised in CSRs.

The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF): The EU’s long term budget. The next budget period is 2021-2027.

The Semester: a cycle of economic and fiscal policy coordination within the EU.

Where to find out more

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