Working paper

How effective and legitimate is the European semester? Increasing role of the European parliament

This study was conducted for the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs: In this working paper the authors assess how a str

Publishing date
22 September 2011

The European Semester is a new institutional process that provides EU member states with ex-ante guidance on fiscal and structural objectives. The Semester’s goals are ambitious and it is still uncertain how it will fit into the new EU economic governance framework.

We find that member states are only slowly internalising the new procedure. Furthermore, the Semester has so far lacked legitimacy due to the minor role assigned to the European Parliament, the marginal involvement of national parliaments and the lack of transparency of the process at some stages.

Finally, there remains room to clarify the implications from a unified legal text. In fact, diluting the legal separation of recommendations on National Reform Programmes and Council opinions on Stability and Convergence Programmes may compromise effective surveillance and governance. The European Parliament has an important role to play. It needs hold the Commission and the Council accountable. This and the overall objective of enhancing the new procedure’s effectiveness and legitimacy can be done by means of a regular Economic Dialogue on the Semester.

About the authors

  • Benedicta Marzinotto

    Benedicta Marzinotto was a Resident Fellow at Bruegel from 2010 to 2013. She is now with the European Commission as a Policy Analyst – Economist, Labour market reforms, at DG ECFIN.

    She is also a Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Udine and Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin Campus).

    Her research for Bruegel focused on EU macroeconomic developments, EU Institutions, finance and growth. More precisely, she was working on the macroeconomics of the recent crisis, the competitiveness debate (macro and micro-approach), the role of the EU budget in the crisis and the impact of financial regulation on economic growth.

    From 2004 to 2009, Benedicta was a Research Fellow in the International Economics Programme at Chatham House. She also has experience as a freelance political economic analyst. She has held visiting positions at the Free University of Berlin and at the University of Auckland.

    Benedicta holds a MSc and PhD in European Political Economy from the London School of Economics. Her research interests include: EU macroeconomics, EU economic governance, varieties of capitalism, and labour markets institutions.

    She is fluent in Italian, English and German.

  • Guntram B. Wolff

    Guntram Wolff was the Director of Bruegel. Over his career, he has contributed to research on European political economy and governance, fiscal, monetary and financial policy, climate change and geoeconomics. Under his leadership, Bruegel has been regularly ranked among the top global think tanks and has grown in influence and impact with a team of now almost 40 recognized scholars and around 65 total staff. Bruegel is also recognized for its outstanding transparency.

    A recognized thought leader and academic, he regularly testifies at the European Finance Ministers' ECOFIN meeting, the European Parliament, the German Parliament (Bundestag) and the French Parliament (Assemblée Nationale). From 2012-16, he was a member of the French prime minister's Conseil d'Analyse Economique. In 2018, then IMF managing director Christine Lagarde appointed him to the external advisory group on surveillance to review the Fund’s priorities. In 2021, he was appointed to the G20 high level independent panel on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. He is also a professor (part-time) at the Solvay Brussels School of Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he teaches economics of European integration.

    He joined Bruegel from the European Commission, where he worked on the macroeconomics of the euro area and the reform of euro area governance. Prior to joining the Commission, he was coordinating the research team on fiscal policy at Deutsche Bundesbank. He also worked as an external adviser to the International Monetary Fund.

    He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Bonn and studied in Bonn, Toulouse, Pittsburgh and Passau. He taught economics at the University of Pittsburgh and at Université libre de Bruxelles. He has published numerous papers in leading academic journals. His columns and policy work are published and cited in leading international media and policy outlets. Guntram is fluent in German, English, French and has good notions of Bulgarian and Spanish.

  • Mark Hallerberg

    Mark Hallerberg has been a Non-Resident Fellow at Bruegel since September 2013. He is a Professor of Public Management and Political Economy at the Hertie School of Governance and is Director of Hertie's Fiscal Governance Centre.

    He is the author of one book, co-author of a second, and co-editor of a third. He has published over twenty-five articles and book chapters on fiscal governance, tax competition and exchange rate choice.

    He has previously held professorships at Emory University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has done consulting work for the Dutch and German Ministries of Finance, Ernst and Young Poland, the European Central Bank, the German Development Corporation (GIZ), the Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

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