The National Reform Programme is an important element of the European Semester process - the annual post-crisis cycle of enhanced economic and fiscal policy coordination at EU level.
Each Semester is set in train by the publication in November by the Commission of the Annual Growth Survey which identifies economic priorities for Member States for the period ahead.
In April, Ireland, like other Member States, submits its National Reform Programme to the European Commission, in conjunction with a Stability Programme Update.
The National Reform Programme, which is coordinated by the Department of the Taoiseach with input from relevant Departments and agencies, provides an overview of structural reforms and policy actions underway, including in response to Country Specific Recommendations given to Ireland as part of the preceding year's European Semester process.
It then reports on progress towards national targets under the five Europe 2020 headline objectives relating to employment; research and development; climate change and energy; education; and social inclusion.
Stakeholder engagement is considered an important part of the process. Input and views are welcomed from a wide range of stakeholders.
Together with the Stability Programme Update, the National Reform Programme helps to inform the Commission’s approach to drafting Country Specific Recommendations for Ireland for the coming year.
The Commission presents its proposals for Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) in May/June for the following 12-18 months.
These policy recommendations are then discussed between Member States and are endorsed by the European Council in June.