The European Semester is the framework for the coordination of economic and social policies in the European Union in its efforts to promote sustainable development, without exclusions, the creation of jobs and the strengthening of the resilience of the economies of the member states. It was first introduced in 2011 in the EU's effort to address weaknesses in EU economic governance, that emerged during the financial and economic crisis. Although the process of the European Semester cycle had changed in 2020 due to the pandemic crisis, by non-issuing neither Country Reports (CRs) nor Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs), it returned in 2022 to its original form, with some adjustments in view of the creation of the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism.

The European Semester cycle begins in autumn every year with the publication of the "Autumn Package", which includes:

(a )the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS), which outlines the economic and employment policy priorities for the EU for the next 12 to 18 months. From the 2020 Semester cycle on, the ASGS is structured around four dimensions: environmental sustainability, productivity, fairness, macroeconomic stability.

(b) the Alert Mechanism Report (AMR), which is based on a scoreboard of indicators and identifies member states that may be affected by economic imbalances and for which the Commission should undertake further in-depth reviews.

(c) the Proposal for a Joint Employment Report, which provides an annual overview of key developments and recent policy measures of member states in employment and social developments in the EU, while also identifying relevant priority areas for action.

(d) the Council Recommendation on the economic policy of the Eurozone, which identifies key issues for the functioning of the Eurozone and provides guidance on specific actions to implement them.

In April, member states submit their National Reform Programs (NRPs) which include measures/policies that member states are implementing and/or intend to adopt to boost employment and development, preventing or correcting macroeconomic imbalances and dealing with CSRs and observations of CRs identified for their country by the Commission (you can find Cyprus's NRPs submitted until now here). From 2022, the NRPs also cover one of the two six-monthly reporting requirements of member states on the progress of implementing their commitments under the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism.

The cycle of the European Semester continues with the "Spring Package" where in May, the Commission publishes the CRs for each member state where the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plans is assessed, the economic and social developments and challenges faced by the member states are analyzed and a prospective analysis of their durability is provided (you can find the CRs for Cyprus submitted until now here). For member states that the AMR identifies them as likely to be affected by financial imbalances, the CR includes the summary of the findings of the "in-depth review".

At the same time, the Commission issues its CSRs (you can find the Country Specific Recommendations for Cyprus here), which are submitted to the Council for approval. Governments are invited to incorporate these recommendations into their NRPs and national budgets for the coming year.

More information on the European Semester and related documents can be found on the European Commission's website here.