How ‘green’ is the European Semester process?
A recent study by IEEP assessed how far environmental issues feature in the European Semester process - a governance mechanism introduced in 2010 to coordinate economic and fiscal policies across EU Member States. This study was carried out by IEEP for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. On 29 January 2014, IEEP was invited to present its results at a meeting of the Greens ‘Green New Deal’ working group in the European Parliament in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by the German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA).
Bettina Kretschmer presented the main conclusions of IEEP’s study which found limited mainstreaming of environmental issues in the European Semester process to date. Some issues are well addressed in strategic documents and recommendations to Member States issued under the process, such as environmental tax reform, energy and transport infrastructure, renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy market design, and progress towards GHG emission reduction targets. However, other issues that are equally central for the Europe 2020 objective of embarking on a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth path are absent or not sufficiently considered. IEEP urged participants at the meeting to work towards a process that fully considers environmental-economic ‘win-win’ opportunities in areas such as biodiversity, eco-innovation, air pollution, water and waste management. IEEP’s presentation was complemented by reactions from representatives of WWF and Green Budget Europe.