The Country-specific Recommendations are documents prepared by the European Commission for each country, analysing its economic situation and providing recommendations on measures it should adopt over the coming 18 months. They are tailored to the particular issues the Member State is facing and cover a broad range of topics: the state of public finances, reforms of pension systems, measures to create jobs and to fight unemployment, education and innovation challenges, etc. The final adoption of Country-specific Recommendations prepared by the Commission is done at the highest level by national leaders in the European Council.
It will be critical for the authorities to avoid complacency and strictly follow the objectives of the EU-IMF programme in 2013, as well after 31 December 2013 when the programme expires. The options to ensure a successful and sustainable exit from the programme are currently being reviewed. Ireland's funding position continues to strengthen and it is regaining good market access. As a result, Ireland holds significant cash reserves and by the end of 2013 it is expected to be able cover its financing needs for more than one year. Full implementation of the programme is also key to ensure progress towards all Europe 2020 targets.
Implementation of the economic adjustment programme has been strong from the outset and positive impacts are now visible in terms of the correction of macroeconomic imbalances, restored competitiveness and budding growth. Substantial fiscal consolidation has been achieved so far and major progress has been done in bank deleveraging and restructuring. Meanwhile, structural reforms have improved economic fundamentals and Ireland's competitiveness.
In spite of all the progress achieved, significant challenges and imbalances remain. Further work is required to complete the restructuring of the banking sector, put public finances on a sustainable footing, and reduce unemployment.
2013 European Commission's recommendations for Ireland
The European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed an Economic Adjustment Programme with the Irish authorities in December 2010. In order to avoid duplication with reform measures set out in the programme, the Commission has not issued any additional recommendations to Ireland in the framework of the European Semester.