On 23 May, the European Commission published its ‘Spring Package’ to further advance the European Semester 2018.
At the heart of the Package are the country-specific recommendations which build on the latest Country Reports. Overall, the Commission is satisfied with the progress being made in creating permanent jobs and tackling segmentation of the labour market. It is less happy with the implementation of previous recommendations in the areas of health and long-term care, and expansion of the tax base. It is not surprising that, according to information provided by the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation (HOPE), 12 Member States have received health-relevant recommendations, particularly in terms of the effectiveness, accessibility and resilience of the national healthcare systems.
Germany has received criticism for only achieving ‘limited progress’ in reducing disincentives for ‘second earners’ to work more hours because of spousal income splitting. In general, there should be more incentives for people to work longer hours and have longer working lives, including for low-wage earners by reducing the tax wedge. The report specifically criticises the regulations surrounding €450 mini-job earnings as a disincentive to work longer hours.
The country-specific recommendations require the approval of the European Council, which will make a decision on 28-29 June.
The Commission’s Spring Package also contains several reviews as part of the Stability and Growth Pact. Perhaps the most spectacular is the recommendation to close the Excessive Deficit Procedure for France.