The European Semester as Goldilocks: Macroeconomic Policy Coordination and the Recovery and Resilience Facility




Vanhercke, Bart
Verdun, Amy

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Journal of Common Market Studies


How and why did the European Semester end up as the main institutional vehicle of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF)? To what extent did this new set-up change the power balance among key actors (for example, financial and economic actors versus social affairs actors)? Drawing on historical institutionalism and based on 28 semi-structured interviews and document analysis, our assessment suggests that while social actors were initially side-lined and national executives strengthened, over time the pendulum is swinging back. The usual actors are strategically using the institutional structures of the revised Semester as a vehicle to ‘have a say’ in the RRF. Having more carrots and sticks suggests further strengthening the pivotal role of the European Commission. Yet having the option of submitting national plans gives member states options too. The EU institutional response to the Covid-19 pandemic built on, and further cemented, the EU's socio-economic governance architecture.


Authors are grateful for feedback received on these earlier versions provided by the workshop participants. The authors also thank 28 key informants for giving their time for semi-structured interviews, conducted by both authors, and generously sharing their views. The authors would like to thank Pietro Regazzoni and Malcolm Thomson for excellent research assistance and three anonymous reviewers of this journal for their careful reading of an earlier version of this manuscript and their many insightful comments and suggestions.


European Commission, European Semester, historical institutionalism, macroeconomic policy coordination, Recovery and Resilience Facility, socio-economic governance


Vanhercke, B., and Verdun, A. (2022) The European Semester as Goldilocks: Macroeconomic Policy Coordination and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 60: 204– 223.