The National Reform Programme is an important element of the European Semester process - the annual post-crisis cycle of enhanced economic and fiscal policy co-ordination at EU level.
Each semester is set in train by the publication in November of the European Commission's Annual Growth Survey, which identifies economic priorities for member states for the period ahead.
In April, Ireland, and other member states, submits its National Reform Programme to the European Commission, together with a Stability Programme Update.
The National Reform Programme is run by the Department of the Taoiseach with input from relevant departments and agencies.
It provides an overview of structural reforms and policy actions under way, including in response to Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs)
given to Ireland as part of the preceding year's European Semester process.
It then reports on the progress towards national targets under five key Europe 2020 objectives, relating to:
research and development
climate change and energy
Stakeholder engagement is an important part of the process. A wide range of organisations offer their input and views.
Together with the Stability Programme Update, the National Reform Programme helps inform the commission’s approach to drafting CSRs for Ireland for the coming year.
The commission presents its proposals for CSRs in May/June for the following 12 to 18 months.
These policy recommendations are then discussed between member states and are endorsed by the European Council in June.