On 20 May 2020, the European Commission published the 2020 Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs). The CSRs are part of the European Semester process and aim to provide tailor-made policy advice to the Member States of the European Union (EU) on how to improve the impact of policies and better invest resources.
As expected, all this year’s CSRs focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the Member States and its aftermaths. In particular, Member States were encouraged to take all the necessary measures to address the pandemic while also sustaining the economy and support the recovery process. Additionally, all CSRs mentioned the importance of national healthcare systems and the need to strengthen their resilience.
Many Members States were also encouraged to implement adequate employment and social inclusion measures, including by enhancing their social protection systems, to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. Throughout the CSRs, the Commission highlighted the additional negative impact of the pandemic on people who are already in disadvantaged situations and the need to put protection measures in place.
The general European Commission’s communication on the CSRs states: “Some groups in particular families with children, the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, migrants and persons with a migrant background and Roma are relatively more exposed. Existing income inequalities are likely to be exacerbated. Under these circumstances, it is vital that social protection systems are swiftly adapted by improving their coverage and adequacy where needed.”
None of the CSRs specifically mentioned mental health in their text. Mental Health Europe regrets seeing this absence, particularly because the crisis is already having and will likely have long-lasting consequences on the mental well-being of many people. Yet, the solid focus on the resilience of healthcare systems and on addressing the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, which coincide with the socio-economic determinants of mental health, gives a strong message from the European Commission.
To compensate for the lack of specific mental health-focused recommendations and to support the implementation of the CSRs, MHE would like to draw the attention to a set of recommendations to support the EU Member States in addressing the pandemic and to guide the recovery process.