EU Semester 2017 : country-specific recommendations presented

The European Commission has presented its 2017 country-specific recommendations (CSRs), setting out its economic policy guidance for individual Member States for the next 12 to 18 months.

The European economy has proved to be resilient in the face of significant challenges. Growth rates in both the EU and the euro area were nearly 2% in 2016, public finances are improving and employment is at a record high of nearly 233 million people. Unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2009 and investment exceeded pre-crisis levels in some Member States – helped by the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called Juncker Plan. However, slow productivity growth and the legacy of the crisis, including disparities within and across countries, continue to weigh on the economy, as does uncertainty stemming mostly from external factors.

The main objective of these CSRs is to achieve more inclusive, robust and sustainable growth, through greater competitiveness and innovation.

Over time, Member States have made some progress on two out of every three country-specific recommendations on average, confirming that significant reforms are being implemented across the EU.



“Zero accidents”
is a construction industry target

The Turkish Contractors Association signed a tri-partite (employers, workers, Ministry) Declaration on Health and Safety in Construction called “Target Zero”, in Istanbul on 13/5/2017.
In this Declaration, the Parties make the following commitments:

  • to give priority to health and safety in construction while carrying out their other duties and responsibilities,
  • to share relevant expertise, know-how and best practice with the public,
  • to take necessary and sustainable protection measures in order to avoid work accidents and create safe and risk-free workplaces,
  • to encourage the implementation of appropriate management systems and safety standards in order to achieve continuous improvement,
  • to give training, with employee/ worker involvement,
  • to identify the needs and specific difficulties of SMEs concerning health and safety issues in the construction sector,
  • to keep on working until the goal of “Target Zero” is reached, by determining necessary policies and strategies in order to create a safe environment in the construction industry. 
  • On the occasion of this laudable, ambitious, necessary and ultimately useful step, FIEC would like to stress that such a commitment is fully in line with specific actions undertaken by the European Construction Social Partners FIEC and EFBWW in the past, together with EU-OSHA, the European information agency for occupational safety and health (https://osha.europa.eu/en).
  • The Joint Social Partner Statement (30/4/2004, http://bit.ly/2qPqKIo) and the Joint Bilbao Declaration (22/12/2004, http://bit.ly/2qc0xF4) stress that their vision is “zero accidents” and that “zero” is the only acceptable figure for accidents, although this might be perceived as unrealistic. Furthermore, even after having achieved “zero accidents”, all efforts have to continue to keep it there.


EFTA secretariat addresses the European services e-card with FIEC

On 22nd May, the EFTA secretariat hosted a workshop on the European services e-card. The goal was to provide constructive input to the EU legislators (European Parliament and Council). The workshop was attended by representatives of the four EFTA States, the European Parliament, the Commission’s DG GROW, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Malta, the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC), the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE), BusinessEurope, the Confederation of Danish Enterprises, Eurochambres and the EFTA Surveillance Authority. 
On this occasion, FIEC repeated that the construction, cleaning and insurance sectors jointly raised major concerns about this legislative proposal. In particular, FIEC insisted that the tacit approval by the host Member State and the indefinite validity of the e-card may lead to many cases of fraud. All in all, as far as the construction industry is concerned, the added value of the e-card seems to be too marginal to achieve the goal of fair competition within the Internal Market.