Council’s European Semester 2020 Romania-specific Recommendations

The European Semester is the process by which, on the basis of European Commission research, all EU council member states develop a set of recommendations to each individual member state, focused on what needs to be done to address economy concerns and ensure that its spending trajectory and financial and housing markets do not cause systemic risk to the Eurozone and to the Union.

Starting in 2012, Real Estate has been a leading area of focus for the ES. Most member states have been motivated to adopt recurrent property taxation, modernise their property registers, simplify shopping centre investment, reform planning laws and/or liberalise housing rental markets.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Council Recommendations released in the summer look a bit different, as the focus has shifted away from the classic real estate concerns and new proposals on affordable housing.

The European Semester primary purpose was to be used as a financial crisis instrument to contain spending and rationalise economies. COVID-19 has turned that to 180.

For all EU countries, recommendation N° 1 is now:

Take all necessary measures, in line with the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact, to effectively address the COVID-19 pandemic, sustain the economy and support the ensuing recovery. When economic conditions allow, pursue fiscal policies aimed at achieving prudent medium-term fiscal positions and ensuring debt sustainability, while enhancing investment. Reinforce the overall resilience of the health system and ensure the supply of critical medical products.

For Romania, specifically, we have the following recommendations:

1. Provide adequate income replacement and extend social protection measures and access to essential services for all. Mitigate the employment impact of the COVID-19 crisis by developing flexible working arrangements and activation measures. Strengthen skills and digital learning and ensure equal access to education.

2. Ensure liquidity support to the economy for the benefit of businesses and households, particularly SMEs and the self-employed. Front-load mature public investment projects and promote private investment to foster the economic recovery. Focus investment on the green and digital transition, in particular on sustainable transport, digital service infrastructure, clean and efficient production and use of energy and environmental infrastructure, including in the coal regions.

3. Improve the quality and effectiveness of public administration and the predictability of decision-making, including through adequate involvement of social partners.

While Real Estate is not in the top recommendations position due to COVID-19, it retains focus on energy efficiency renovations of buildings and Investment in new housing for alleviating the current housing shortage.

EU recovery funding and grants for green and digital transition (energy efficiency renovation of buildings) can represent an interesting avenue for the real estate domain in the near-future.