EC presents European Semester Spring Package country reports and recommendations
On 23 May 2018, the European Commission (EC) published the European Semester Spring Package (2018), including recommendations for Member States to achieve sustainable, inclusive and long-term growth. The recommendations set out the EC's policy guidance for Member States for the next 12-18 months. The country-specific recommendations proposed by the EC build on the progress already made in recent years and aim to capitalise on the positive economic outlook to guide Member States to take further action.
The EC points out that the improved economic context allows to focus on a renewed set of priorities, and Member States should use this window of opportunity to carry out the necessary reforms, in particular regarding structural reforms that improve the business environment and conditions for investment, especially through product and service market reforms, supporting innovation, improving small- and medium-sized enterprises' access to finance and fighting corruption. Member States should also strengthen economic resilience in the context of long-term challenges, such as demographic trends, migration and climate change. Special attention in this year's recommendations is given to social challenges, with a focus on ensuring the provision of adequate skills, the effectiveness and adequacy of social safety nets and improving social dialogue. Countries are also recommended to carry out reforms that prepare their workforces for the future, including future forms of work and increasing digitalisation; reduce income inequalities; and create employment opportunities, for young people in particular.
The country reports include, amongst others, a part on sectoral policies, including research and innovation. The Country Report for Austria highlights the following issues regarding research and innovation:
- Austria is a strong innovator, with a solid public commitment to support research and innovation.
- Austria has a solid research and science base, but there is room to increase its scientific excellence.
- Stronger science-business links would ensure a better translation of Austria's R&D investments into innovation output.
- Since 2011, Austria has tabled a multitude of initiatives and programmes and has started to evaluate their overall effectiveness.
With regard to the R&D target of 3.76% that Austria has set itself, the report states that Austria is among the EU countries with the strongest increase in R&D intensity since 2000, but that additional efforts and faster progress are required to reach the ambitious 3.76 % target for 2020.
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Photo credit: European CommissionTOP