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Socio-Economic and Political Challenges of EU Member Countries: Grasping the Policy Direction of the European Semester

Sara Casagrande () and Bruno Dallago ()
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Sara Casagrande: University of Trento via Inama, 5
Bruno Dallago: University of Trento via Inama, 5

Comparative Economic Studies, 2022, vol. 64, issue 3, No 4, 487-519

Abstract: Abstract The European Semester (ES) and the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) have been introduced with the purpose to promote flexibility and adaptation to national circumstances in the governance of fiscal policies. To assess whether the ES has contributed to reconcile economic and social objectives, we measured, through the distance to frontier (DTF) score methodology, the distance of each member country from a benchmark based on EU aims and values defined in the EU treaties. Results show that EU member countries are far from the benchmark and CSRs have not prevented a progressive deterioration of stability and cohesion from an economic, political and social perspective. A content analysis of the CSRs issued from 2011 to 2018 and a comparison with the DTF scores reveal a weak connection between member countries’ performance and CSRs. Despite the social content of many CSRs, we actually observe a “commodification” of their goals. CSRs promote a society functional to flexible and competitive markets, and compatible with the requirements of fiscal discipline and sustainability. This neoliberal approach apparently played a role in the EU deterioration and makes the “socialization” of the ES a process with ambiguous implications for European citizens.

Keywords: Benchmark; Content analysis; Country-specific recommendations; Distance to frontier score methodology; European Monetary Union; European Semester; Fiscal policy coordination; Policy direction (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C43 C80 E61 F15 O52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1057/s41294-021-00171-2

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