Europe 2020: Scotland's National Reform Programme 2019

A summary of the actions taken by the Scottish Government in 2018 and 2019 in pursuit of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Chapter 1: The Europe 2020 Strategy and National Reform Programme

In March 2010, the European Commission published its Europe 2020 strategy[1] aimed at helping the EU to recover from the economic crisis which began in 2008.

The overall aim of the strategy was to turn the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy which delivered high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. In order to achieve this, the strategy identified five headline targets which the EU should meet by the end of this decade. The Scottish Government strongly supports all of these targets. They relate to employment; research and development (R&D); climate change and energy; education; and poverty and social inclusion.

Europe 2020 targets

  • 75% of the population aged 20-64 should be employed
  • 3% of the EU's GDP should be invested in R&D
  • The "20/20/20" climate/energy targets should be met (including an increase to 30% of emissions reduction if the conditions are right)
  • The share of early school leavers should be under 10% and at least 40% of the younger generation should have a tertiary degree
  • 20 million less people should be at risk of poverty

National Reform Programmes

In order to measure progress in achieving these targets each EU Member State submits an annual report to the European Commission. These reports are known as National Reform Programmes (NRP) and they outline the policies that Member States are currently pursuing to deliver on the ambitions of the Europe 2020 strategy. As part of this process, the Scottish Government has contributed to the development of the UK Government's NRP for 2019.

However, in order to highlight the unique characteristics of Scotland, and the distinct approach to the Europe 2020 ambitions that we are taking forward, the Scottish Government produces its own annual Scotland specific NRP report.

This report is the ninth Scottish NRP report. It builds on the previous Scottish reports and outlines the actions being undertaken in Scotland in support of the delivery of the ambitions of the Europe 2020 Strategy. It also provides a valuable opportunity to share with our European neighbours the innovative and often world leading policies being pursued by the Scottish Government.

The European Semester

The European Commission has established an annual cycle of economic policy co‑ordination known as the 'European Semester', which aims to focus the efforts of Member States on achieving the Europe 2020 targets. A summary of the European Semester is presented in Table 1.

Table 1 - The European Semester


European Commission publishes its Annual Growth Survey, detailing policy priorities for the EU as a whole to boost growth and job creation over the year ahead.


European Commission publishes a Country Report for each Member State, analysing their economic situation, reform agendas, and progress towards previous Country‑Specific Recommendations (CSRs).


Member States present their NRPs and Stability or Convergence Programmes to the Commission.


European Commission proposes CSRs to Member States to address particular challenges over the coming 12‑18 months.


The European Council discusses and formally adopts the CSRs.

CountrySpecific Recommendations for the UK

In addition to the five headline targets outlined above the European Commission also addresses country‑specific recommendations (CSRs) to each member state. These recommendations are tailored specifically to each EU country and provide policy guidance on how to boost jobs and growth, whilst at the same time maintaining sound public finances. The European Commission provided the UK with an updated set of CSRs in July 2018:[2]

1. CSR1: Fiscal Outlook "Ensure that the nominal growth rate of net primary government expenditure does not exceed 1,6% in 2019-2020, corresponding to an annual structural adjustment of 0,6% of GDP."

2. CSR2: Housing "Boost housing supply, particularly in areas of highest demand, including through additional reforms to the planning system."

3. CSR3: Skills "Address skills and progression needs by setting targets for the quality and the effectiveness of apprenticeships and by investing more in upskilling those already in the labour force."



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