Though the member states of the European Union are making progress with reforms and addressing macroeconomic imbalances, they should do more to consolidate Europe’s recovery.
The EC proposed its 2016 country-specific recommendations on May 18, setting out its economic policy guidance for individual member states for the next 12 to 18 months. In addition to efforts already identified and ongoing at the European level, the recommendations focus on priority reforms to strengthen the recovery of member states’ economies by boosting investment, implementing structural reforms and pursuing fiscal responsibility, the EC informed in a press release.
“Today’s economic package places major emphasis on the structural reforms needed to strengthen the EU’s economic recovery, reduce obstacles to growth and boost employment,” said Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, as quoted in the press release.
The recommendations also reflect the EC’s efforts to make the European semester of economic governance more effective and relevant. The EC has this year proposed fewer recommendations with a focus on key economic and social priorities identified in its Annual Growth Survey 2016. To strengthen national ownership, it has provided more time and more opportunities to engage and communicate with member states and stakeholders at all levels. It has also added a greater focus on the euro area challenges and on the interdependence between economies, in line with the agreed recommendation for the economic policy of the euro area.
As for Slovakia, the EC recommends to achieve an annual fiscal adjustment of 0.25 percent of GDP towards the medium-term budgetary objective in 2016 and 0.5 percent of GDP in 2017. The country should also improve the cost-effectiveness of the health-care system and take measures to increase tax compliance.
Moreover, Slovakia should improve the activation measures for the long-term jobless and other disadvantaged groups, facilitate the employment of women, particularly by extending the provisions of affordable and quality childcare. The EC also recommends the country to improve educational outcomes by making the teaching profession more attractive and by increasing the participation of Roma children from early childhood in mainstream education.
As for the state administration, Slovakia should consolidate governance, reinforce the shift from price only to quality-based competition and improve the prosecution of illicit practices in public procurement. It is also recommended to improve the transparency, quality and effectiveness of human resources management in public administration, in particular by adopting a new civil service act, and the effectiveness of the justice system.
The country should also adopt a comprehensive plan to address administrative and regulatory barriers for businesses, according to the EC press release.