Social and Circular Economy Policies in the European Semester: Lessons from the 2022 Cycle

by | Nov 6, 2023 | Publications

The European Semester is a multiannual exchange between the European Commission and EU Member States for macroeconomic policy coordination. It plays a crucial role in monitoring national compliance with important EU policy objectives, such as the implementation of the EU Action Plans on the Pillar of Social Rights (2021) [1], the Social Economy (2021) [2], and the Circular Economy (2020) [3].

RREUSE has conducted an annual European Semester analysis since 2018. We monitor the prominence of measures for the social and circular economies across Member States’ National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and in the Commission’s Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs). The 2021 European Semester was an exceptional annual cycle in which EU countries had to submit and merge their post-pandemic Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRP, 2021 – 2026 implementation period) with the National Reform Programmes [4].

The 2022 European Semester cycle returned to its usual coordination mechanism of annual National Reform Programmes and Country Specific Recommendations. The 2022 cycle shows increased measures for the social and circular economies, though challenges persist. This paper highlights some of the most significant national best practices of these policy interventions for 2022-2023 to guide policy design and replication. Furthermore, it offers a set of recommendations for the EU and national policy makers to leverage the European Semester for socially inclusive and circular societies.


[1] European Commission (2021), The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan (Available here).

[2] European Commission (2021), Communication: Building an economy that works for people: an action plan for the social economy (Available here).

[3] European Commission (2020), Communication: A new Circular Economy Action Plan For a cleaner and more competitive Europe (Available here).

[4] RREUSE (2022), RREUSE 2021 European Semester Analysis (Available here).