Public administration in the frontline of reforms

(24 February 2016) {{Public administration across much of Europe is in the "frontline when it comes to implementing structural reforms”. At the same time it is bound in a "straitjacket of austerity measures carried out in the framework of the EU economic governance process." This is one of the key points made in a report for EPSU by the OSE research organisation, {The European Semester and modernisation of public administration}.}} The report is the result of a project coordinated by EPSU and financed by the European Commission. It examines the ways in which public administration has been targeted for reform as part of the European Semester - the process of economic policy coordination set up by the European institutions in 2011. After outlining the Semester process, the report goes on to provide an overview of the types of reforms that have been recommended by the European Commission and Council. It then looks at what is happening at national level, outlining the main trends but also looking in detail at the process in five countries – Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ireland and Italy. {{{Cuts and competitiveness}}} The OSE analysis raises the question of quality and argues that "the qualitative dimension is not considered in this process in terms of EU citizens' wellbeing but rather in terms of its ability to contribute to the reduction of public expenditure and the enhancing of competitiveness.” The report tracks the country specific recommendations on public administration that have been made since 2012 and finds that all Member States have been had some kind of recommendation. It is positive to note that reforming the tax system and/or improving measures to collect tax and reduce tax avoidance form the largest group of CSRs over this period. {{{“Red tape”}}} The report finds that measures to cut "administrative burdens" on business have not appeared so consistently among the recommendations. However, this maybe because they top of the list of measures that governments claim to be undertaking according to OSE's analysis of the 2015 National Reform Programmes. The report's five case studies give an indication of how individual countries have been responding to the CSRs. For Finland, France and Italy it is clear that some of the recommendations, particularly in relation to changing governance structures, fit with existing reform plans. However, these countries also face CSRs calling for more urgent action on reform and, in the case of Italy, a virtual repetition of CSRs from one year to the next. {{{Trade union involvement}}} The case studies show that there is clearly some consultation of trade unions (mainly the national trade union confederations), but that more could be done to improve the process and make it more than just a formality. The report makes some suggestions as to how trade unions can become more involved in the Semester process, identifying entry points at key stages. In particular, it argues that input into the country reports may well be the most effective way of ensuring specific issues are taken up in the country specific recommendations. {{{Report and summary}}} The full report is available in English, French and German while there are also summaries available below in 10 other languages. {{{Summary}}} The Executive Summary has been translated into Bulgarian, Croat, Czech, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.