Since 2011 the European Semester has been the term used by the European Union to describe the annual cycle of macro-economic, budgetary and structural policy coordination that supports delivery by EU member states of agreed common priorities, namely the implementation of the Stability and Growth pact.
The European Semester provides a common timetable for EU policy guidance, which includes the publication by the European Commission of Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) indicating a set of actions for each member state to take, according to its economic and social performance during the previous year.
CSRs have the potential to incentivise structural reforms towards the transition to a green economy, and the implementation of the other goals set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. However, up to now, CSRs in the European Semester process have not focussed sufficiently on environmental fiscal policy measures, and have not yet delivered an increase in environmental tax revenues.
Labour taxes account for 53.3% of total tax revenue in the Eurozone against 5.7% for environmental taxation. There is a persistent high unemployment rate of 9.6% (EU 28 average) according to Eurostat combined with an excessive energy import dependence of 52-53% in the EU 28.
GBE’s main objectives in this area include:
- Improving the uptake of Environmental Fiscal Reform (EFR) within the European Semester cycle and encouraging a higher rate of implementation of EFR-related Country-Specific Recommendations;
- Enhancing the governance process by strengthening the engagement of environmental NGOs in the process, both at EU and national level.