The “European Semester” is an annual cycle of macro-economic, budgetary and structural policy-related coordination within the EU. Its focus is on the first six-month period of each year, hence its name "European Semester". During the European Semester, the member states align their budgetary and economic policies with the objectives and rules agreed at EU level. The aim is to ensure sound public finances, to promote economic growth and to prevent excessive macroeconomic imbalances within the EU. The Semester has a clear timetable, according to which the member states receive EU-level advice ("guidance") and subsequently submit their policy plans ("national reform programmes" and "stability or convergence programmes"), to be assessed at EU level. After they have been evaluated, the member states are given individual recommendations ("country-specific recommendations") for their national budgetary and reform policies. If necessary, they also receive recommendations for correcting macroeconomic imbalances. The objective is for the member states to take these recommendations into account when they define their budget for the next year.