European Semester in the Italian Senate: custom and procedures
This Dossier, prepared by the Italian Senate Research Department, focuses on the participation and audit tools available to the Italian Senate in the context of the European Semester, verifying at which extent such tools have been used so far.
The following Semester documents are taken into consideration for the 2011-2019 period: 1) annual growth surveys; 2) recommendations for a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area; 3) national stability programmes and national reform programmes for Italy; 4) country-specific recommendations to Italy.
Scrutiny procedures for each document are described. Tables are shown giving an account of the outcome of scrutiny in Senate standing committees and plenary. Data gathered show that the Italian Senate has traditionally focused on European issues, but this has not, at least so far, entailed actual scrutiny of Semester documents.
Domestic reform and stability programmes are the only exception, having been regularly considered in Committees and the Plenary, as part of national economic planning and public finance documents. Hearings on such programmes were held by joint sittings of Senate and Chamber committees and resolutions were adopted.
Documents approved by the European institutions (annual growth surveys and the above mentioned recommendations) have been regularly referred to the Standing Committee on Budget and Economic Planning starting as late as 2016. Scrutiny almost never actually took place and no resolution was ever approved.
It should be noted that, while the Senate Rules regulate in detail the so-called "national semester", i.e. the passage of the domestic budget, no reference is made to the "European semester", on which the domestic budget is based.
In terms of interparliamentary co-operation, the Senate has constantly attended the Conference on stability, economic coordination and governance in the European Union, with no less than two Senators per session.
No hearings were held on the semester and no resolutions were ever adopted in this field.
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