Abstract

This contribution investigates the asymmetrical relationship between economic and social aspects under the European Semester by looking at the roles of the European Council and the Council between 2010 and 2016. Drawing on the theories of deliberative and new intergovernmentalism, this asymmetry is associated with an uneven evolution of the co-ordination infrastructure, notably the varying degree to which key policy issues are subject to informal policy dialogue. Not only are finance ministers better placed to conduct policy dialogue, they also control the European Semester policy priorities more effectively than their colleagues in the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO). Finance ministers also are more closely linked to discussions at the highest political level, the European Council. Social affairs committees and the Commission managed to gain a greater role at the expert level and to integrate more social issues into policy recommendations. Yet, these successes are not matched by higher level political endorsement.