Thursday, January 31, 2013

European Semester Officer

The Netherlands proposed an EU Super-Commissioner for Budgetary Discipline in 2011 that would control the budgets of the member states as a way of stabilizing the euro zone, and rules to expel members who didn't implement austerity swiftly and effectively in a downturn. Germany liked it, France and the UK hated it, and the idea went away. Or so it seemed.

This morning, the new head of the euro group, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, announced that the European Commission will install a so-called European Semester Officer in The Hague. The Semester Officer is intended to act as a watchdog over the national governments, without the status of a Commissioner. Legislation and treaty changes are not required. At the moment this post was written, news had not been reflected in the English speaking press. Jean-Luc Annaert, a Belgian, is said to be the first appointee.

Officially, the European Semester is part of an attempt to more strongly link economic policies in the fields of structural adjustment (competitiveness policy, known as Europe 2020) and euro zone commitments, for all member states) with tougher oversight and sanctioning mechanisms.