Role of a reformed European Semester within a new sustainable economy strategy

Ahead of the publication of this year's country recommendations for the European Semester, this paper identifies priorities and modalities for the reform of the Semester so that it becomes a key instrument for operationalising the SDGs and implementing the European Green Deal at Member State level.

In the absence of an overall Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) strategy for the EU, which would include targets and reporting requirements for Member States, the European Semester can become a key instrument for operationalising the SDGs and implementing the European Green Deal. This paper identifies the following priorities and modalities for such an integration:

Introducing 8 dimensions of the sustainable economy into the 2021 Semester cycle:

  • Size of the green economy
  • Long-term sustainability of the economy
  • Sustainable public finance
  • Green incentives, taxes and subsidies
  • Measuring green R&D and Innovation
  • Sustainable Industry
  • Climate change risk
  • Negative spill-over effects

Using 15 existing indicators that would form part of an environmental sustainability scoreboard:

  • Private investment, jobs and gross value added related to circular economy sectors
  • Share of forest area
  • Soil sealing index
  • Water bodies in good ecological status (%)
  • Water exploitation index
  • Environmental protection expenditure of the public sector by type
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Eco-innovation index
  • Industrial greenhouse gas emissions intensity
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from transport
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture
  • Domestic material consumption per capita
  • Per capita waste generation
  • Year of Life lost due to exposure to particulate matter
  • Climate-related economic losses

Improving the sustainability scoreboard over time through new indicators e.g. public funding for just transition

Creating synergies with the social scoreboard by introducing the concept of a sustainable well-being economy for all

Aiming for an integrated approach to structural reform in the EU Member States:

  • aligning the Semester process with review progress towards EU quantitative policy targets;
  • supporting a greater policy coherence for sustainable development at the Member State level;
  • moving towards an integrated policy review roadmap;
  • aligning funding, incentives and compliance mechanisms;
  • enhancing democracy to promote public support.


An EU Green Deal series by IEEP