The European Semester is the annual economic and social policy coordination cycle between the European Commission and national governments. Despite the key role of public social services in the implementation of European social policies, they are often far from European policy and decision-making processes. Since 2014, ESN has tried to bridge this gap through its Reference Group on the European Semester, which aims to raise awareness of issues social services face at local level, provide policy recommendations to the European Commission on how these issues can be tackled, and increase the profile of social services in European policy-making.
In 2020, the reference group focused on the implementation of three important principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights (ESPR): Principle 11 on Childcare and assistance to children, Principle 18 on Long-Term Care and Principle 19 on Housing and assistance to homelessness.. In 2022, the reference group informed EU policymakers how social challenges could be better addressed by the EU Semester and the Recovery and Resilience Funds.