Slovakia 'an example' to other Member States over Europe 2020
Slovakia's commitment to meeting the targets set out in the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth and the European Commission's recent country-specific recommendations can serve as an example to the rest of the EU, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said on Monday.
Speaking a conference on Europe 2020 in his home country, alongside Prime Minister Robert Fico, V-P Šefčovič warned that Member States must not make the same mistake as they did with the Lisbon Strategy, the previous jobs and growth programme, which failed to meet its targets because of a lack of real implementation at national level.
"Let's not fall into that trap once again – I am sure we won't, as the crisis has helped to sharpen the focus on the need to push through the reforms," he said, underlining the recent calls from Member States for more growth-friendly measures to sit alongside the austerity.
Commenting on the recent country-specific recommendations, published by the Commission at the end of May, V-P Šefčovič praised Slovakia for its efforts to improve its fiscal framework, private pensions, the transparency of the judiciary and public procurement measures.
But he also highlighted seven key recommendations for Slovakia, including tackling high unemployment levels by, among others, improving public sector employment opportunities and cutting tax levels for the low-paid in a bid to boost the attractiveness of the labour market and reduce dependence on benefits.
Other recommendations include accelerating the efforts to cut public deficits to below 3% (Slovakia's target to do so is 2013) by improving tax collection measures and fighting tax evasion, as well as investing in skills and boosting R&D spending.
V-P Šefčovič praised the Slovak government for its positive response to the recommendations, and its commitment to publishing its proposals for implementing the recommended changes by the end of June. "I hope that other Member States will follow the Slovak approach of a concrete action plan whose implementation is closely monitored," he said.