Starting this year, Romania will join the European Semester, which means that the 2012 budget will be first presented to the EU Finance ministers before it will be sent to the Parliament for approval. The European Semester was launched yesterday, as EU President Jose Manuel Barroso presented the Annual Growth Survey. The European Semester is a common coordination instrument of the economic and fiscal policies of EU member states through which the EU monitors budgetary disciplines, macro-economic stability and growth policies.

The new process will have several stages: in January, the EC presents the Annual Growth Survey, a report evaluating whether and to what extent EU member states took account of the Council’s recommendations in the previous year. The report was presented yesterday by Barroso.

In March, the Council identifies the main economic challenges and offers strategic counseling for future policies based on the January report. In April, member states have to send their convergence and stability programs and national reform strategies, in accordance with the recommendations received from the Council.

In June and July, ECOFIN and the Council elaborates recommendations and steps forward on budgetary and economic policies based on which the member states set up their budgets for the previous year.