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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

Economic governance

Economic governance

Assessments of 2022-2024 Economic Reform Programmes

The Economic and Financial Dialogue between the EU and the Western Balkans and Turkey took place on 24th May, where the representatives of the EU Member States, the Western Balkans and Turkey, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, as well as representatives of the central banks of the Western Balkans and Turkey adopted the Joint Conclusions (Western Balkans and Turkey: Joint conclusions of the economic and financial dialogue of 24 May 2022) with the specific targeted Policy Guidance for the 2022-2024 ERP cycle.

Fundamentals first

Fulfilment of the economic criteria is a key requirement for EU membership, as set out in the Copenhagen criteria. It implies a functioning market economy is in place that has the capacity to withstand competitive pressure inside the EU single market. The European Commission gives an overview of each country's readiness and progress in the fulfilment of the economic criteria every year. For more details see our latest strategy paper and country progress reports.

Economic governance is the system by which government institutions, including independent actors like the central bank, regulate and steer the economy. The fundamentals first approach to EU enlargement encourages aspiring members to tackle economic fundamentals first: macroeconomic stability, a welcoming business environment, functioning labour and financial markets, good levels and quality of education, infrastructure, innovation and economic integration with the EU and the world.

The EU strengthened its economic governance exercise with the enlargement countries in 2015 to prepare them for their eventual participation in the European Semester.

Economic Reform Programmes

As of 2015, all candidate countries and potential candidates submit annual Economic Reform Programmes (ERP) to the European Commission. They are an expanded version of the previous Pre-Accession Economic Programmes for candidate countries. The ERPs contain medium-term macroeconomic projections (including for GDP growth, inflation, trade balance and capital flows), budgetary plans for the next three years and a structural reform agenda. The structural reform agenda includes reforms to boost competitiveness and improve conditions for inclusive growth and job creation in the following areas:

  • Public Financial Management
  • Green transition
  • Digital transformation
  • Business environment and reduction of the informal economy;
  • Research, development and innovation;
  • Economic integration reforms
  • Energy market reforms;
  • Transport market reforms;
  • Agriculture, industry and services;
  • Education and skills
  • Employment and labour market
  • Social protection and inclusion
  • Healthcare systems

The European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) both make assessments of the ERPs that are submitted to the Council of Ministers for direct discussions with the enlargement countries.

Economic and Financial multilateral dialogue

All seven enlargement countries participate in a multilateral dialogue meeting with the Ministers of Finance of the EU Member States, the EU and the ECB on an annual basis. The participants adopt Joint Conclusions with country-specific policy guidance for each of the countries outlining economic policy priorities for the coming 12 months. The policy guidance passes through preparatory multilateral discussions in the Council of Ministers over the course of a month. These discussions occur in parallel in the Economic Policy Committee, the Employment Committee and the Economic and Financial Committee. The Commission and ECB assessments of the Economic Reform Programmes (see above) form the basis for these discussions.

EuroStat provides a Progress Report on the Action Plan on Economic, Monetary and Financial Statistics for Candidate Countries that is also discussed during the dialogue meeting.

Key documents