The Heads of State or Government of the European Union endorsed the basic components of the Europe 2020 strategy on 17 June 2010. Until 2020, it will serve as the EU’s strategy for boosting growth and employment.
EU leaders agreed on five headline targets in the areas of employment, research and development, climate change and energy, education and the fight against poverty and social exclusion, which they want the EU to achieve by 2020.
For the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs two of these headline goals are particularly important: 75% of the population aged 20-64 should be employed by 2020 and 20 million fewer people should be at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States adopted by the Council on 21 October 2010 outline how the Member States could reach the employment and poverty headline targets.
The European Commission is catalysing progress on the strategy through its seven European flagship initiatives and monitors the progress of the Member States. To this end, a new policy coordination cycle called the European Semester was introduced in 2011. It integrates coordination in the fields of economic, fiscal and employment policy and is designed to help implement the necessary reforms. The European Semester is a six-month cycle which starts at the beginning of a calendar year. At the end of each cycle and before the start of their national budget planning processes, the Member States are provided with country-specific recommendations.
In their annual National Reform Programmes the Member States report on their implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and their national measures to reach the five headline targets. Moreover, in these programmes they also respond to the country-specific recommendations they received at the end of the previous cycle.