Improving the role of the social partners in the European Semester: Education and training priorities in the Annual Growth Survey 2015


The European Semester has become an important tool for recommendations to Member States on education and training. Yearly, these recommendations contribute to education and training reforms at national level. The Annual Growth Survey 2015 is a communication from the European Commission to the Member States which kicks off the European Semester 2015 (the annual cycle of economic governance).

This Annual Growth Survey, together with its accompanying documents such as the Draft Joint Employment Report, sets out the Jobs, Growth and Investments Package announced as a first priority in the Political Guidelines of the new European Commission.
The European Commission considers the implementation of country-specific recommendations still unsatisfactory. According to the Annual Growth Survey 2015, the European Semester needs to be more effective and there is a need to increase political ownership, accountability and acceptance of the process among stakeholders. To help to improve the implementation for country-specific recommendations, the European Commission has streamlined the European Semester .

The Annual Growth Survey 2015 foresees that:

  • Social partners both at European and national level should be more involved in the implementation policies of country-specific recommendations;
  • The European Commission will make sure that European social partners are better 'associated' to the European Semester process;
  • Social partners should actively contribute to national reform agenda.
How teachers' unions could be more involved at national and European level?

The Annual Growth Survey 2015 suggests a greater involvement of national social partners in:

  • The formulation of National Reform Programmes;
  • An earlier presentation of the country-specific analysis by the European Commission which will allow for more time to examine and discuss the priorities on education and training;
  • A closer involvement of the European Parliament in the European Semester which will allow for more political debates around the European Semester.

For example, the Annual Growth Survey 2015 suggest that the European Commission could engage in debates with the European Parliament and the social partners at European level before the Annual Growth Survey is published a continue to debate after its adoption. Based on the country-specific analysis (Alert Mechanism Report, In-depth reviews, etc.), the Commission could engage with the European Parliament and social partners to receive feedback on relevant country-specific issues.

The Annual Growth Survey for 2015 outlines the main priorities of the new European Commission jobs and growth agenda.

The European Commission acknowledges that the recovery of the European economy still lags behind, and the small progresses foreseen for 2014 and 2015 soon vanished in the second half of 2014. As a way out of the crisis, the 2015 Annual Growth Survey of the European Commission proposes to follow an integrated approach to economic and social policy for 2015 built on three main pillars: boost investments, accelerate structural reforms and pursue fiscal stability.

Boost investments, especially in key areas such as education and innovation systems. In this regards, the Investment Plan for Europe is expected to raise additional investments infrastructures, notably energy and broadband networks; as well as transport infrastructure; education, research and innovation; renewable energy and energy efficiency. Please see ETUCE position on the Investment Plan for Europe.

Accelerate structural reforms at Member States' level

In order to tackle the high level of unemployment, the Annual Growth Survey 2015 stresses the importance of:

  • VET and dual education systems,
  • Lifelong learning through the mobilisation of both public and private actors, with broader access at all ages,
  • A better assessment of the skills needs at regional and sectoral levels is necessary.

With regards to the modernisation of social protection systems, better targeted social policies should be complemented by:

  • Affordable childcare and education,
  • Prevention of early school leaving,
  • Training and job assistance.

The identified priorities will be included in the next country-specific recommendations.