Expert study on the quality of the Commission's communications related to the European Semester

The communication process is an essential part of the implementation of the European Semester (ES), a common framework aimed at coordinating fiscal and economic governance across the EU. Various communications issued by the Commission during the ES should provide an opportunity to profile the fiscal and economic governance of a specific country, from the perspective of concerns common to all Member States (MS). However, it was not known whether ES communications convince MS to respond to analyses of situations and their related recommendations. It was also important to find out if such communications are effective at inviting MS to be proactive in their responses, rather than being reactive only to the threat of legally-binding rules and sanctions. Overall, it was necessary to support the European Court of Auditors (ECA) in its audit assessing the European Commission’s role in the implementation of the Preventive Arm (PA) of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), and its role in coordinating the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy by MS.

To determine whether EC strategies in this area have fulfilled expectations, this expert study assessed the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the EC’s reporting and communications in the context of the ES. Applying the perspectives of agenda-setting, policy framing and behavioural insights, PPMI analysed the content of ES-related communications. The sample selected for content analysis included 38 official ES communication documents varying considerably in length and purpose, from analytical reports to public speeches. In addition, 29 documents on the ES communication processes and products were also analysed to reconstruct the processes of planning, implementing and monitoring ES communications.

Our study contributed to efforts to strengthen the favourable impact of the European Semester across the EU. We identified the most vulnerable aspects of the ES communications. As a result, a number of recommendations were provided to support more effective and efficient communication on the ES.

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