The country-specific recommendations are documents prepared by the European Commission for each Member State, which analyse its economic situation and provide tailored policy advice on measures that it should adopt over the coming 18 months. They cover the particular challenges that the Member State is facing in a broad range of areas: the state of public finances, reforms of pension systems, measures to create jobs and to fight unemployment, education and innovation challenges, efficiency of the public administration, competition etc. The final adoption of country-specific recommendations prepared by the Commission takes place at the highest level by national leaders in the European Council.
Progress on the adjustment of macroeconomic imbalances and advances in a comprehensive policy reform agenda are helping to rebuild confidence in the Spanish economy. The Spanish economy pulled out of a long recession in the third quarter of 2013 and employment stopped declining at the end of 2013. As highlighted in the 2014 in-depth review presented by the Commission on 5 March 2014, Spain is experiencing macroeconomic imbalances which require specific monitoring and decisive policy action but has advanced towards the unwinding of imbalances identified as excessive last year. Spain is recommended to correct its excessive deficit by 2016 at the latest.
Spain has made progress in addressing the 2013 country-specific recommendations. Continued attention will be needed to ensure effective implementation and carry out those reforms that are still outstanding. The recovery of the Spanish economy remains fragile, requiring swift and full implementation of the reform strategy. Public finance management has been strengthened, but significant fiscal consolidation is still needed. Spain has successfully concluded an EU-backed programme to recapitalise its financial institutions, but the sector still faces challenges and risks that need to be carefully monitored and managed. Effective activation policies and labour market institutions and reforms in product and services markets are key to reducing significantly the still very high unemployment rate over time. Reform of public administration is also progressing. Efforts have been made to create a larger and more efficient rental housing market. Significant steps have been taken to address the electricity tariff deficit, in particular by reducing the system costs. However, other reforms, such as the adoption of the law on professional services continue to be delayed. Reforms to improve the labour market relevance of education are on the way. The capacity of the social protection system to respond to growing poverty and social exclusion remains limited. See how Spain compares with other EU Member States in key areas.
2014 European Commission's recommendations in brief
The Commission has issued eight country-specific recommendations to Spain to help it improve its economic performance. These are in the areas of: public finances; financial sector; labour market; education and training; social inclusion; product and services markets; network industries; efficiency of the public administration.