The European Semester is an annual process, where the European Union coordinates and monitors economic policy. The European Commission and Council analyse Member States' fiscal and structural policies, issue recommendations and monitor their implementation.
The European Semester begins in the end of the year, when the Commission adopts the Annual Growth Survey and the Alert Mechanism Report. In March, the European Council defines the key challenges in economic policy.
In April, Member States report to the EU in their Stability/Convergence Programmes and National Reform Programmes (Europe 2020 Programmes) the measures planned and implemented that ensure compliance with the EU's fiscal policy rules, support growth and employment and prevent or correct macroeconomic imbalances. These programmes must take into account the guidance given by the European Council.
The Commission assesses Member States' plans and makes proposals country-specific recommendations. Member States' ministers discuss these recommendations in June, after which they are adopted by the European Council. These recommendations should be taken into account in decision-making at the national level.
The European Semester is complemented by a common budgetary timeline for the euro area Member States, the framework within which, simultaneously to the Stability programme and the National Reform Programme in the spring, euro area Member States prepare a medium-term fiscal plan, and in the autumn, a Draft Budgetary Plan. The Commission assesses compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact on the basis of these plans. The Eurogroup discusses Member States' plans and the state of the public finances in the euro area.