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 12 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.
In 2012, the economic activity of the Netherlands is expected to contract by 0.9 %, before regaining light momentum in 2013. Unemployment is foreseen to increase from 5.7 % in 2012 to 6.2 % in 2013.
Constrained by a highly complex political context, the Netherlands has only adopted a limited number of far-reaching policy initiatives. As regards the pension system, the Netherlands has tabled a reform proposal aimed at gradually raising the statutory retirement age. The Netherlands is further taking measures to increase labour supply, especially of second-income earners. In addition, the Netherlands has implemented a strategy aimed at fostering closer science-business links through its new enterprise policy.
The Netherlands continue to face a number of serious challenges in the short to medium term. Rigorously pursuing the budgetary strategy for the year 2012 and specifying the measures necessary to ensure implementation of the 2013 budget with a view to timely correcting the excessive deficit will be of paramount importance. Important changes to the first and second pension pillar, as well as to long-term care, have been announced, which have to be assessed against the challenge of an ageing population. Furthermore, participation in the labour market, particularly of women, people with disabilities and migrants is weak and tax disincentives remain notably for second-income earners. Innovation is high on the Dutch political agenda; there is however a risk that is would come at the cost of fundamental research or of the innovative firms it does not target. Finally, structural distortions have built up in the Dutch housing market, both in the property market and rental market, leading to a gradual increase in household leverage and an inefficient allocation of capital.
All Member States have committed to the Europe 2020 strategy. However, each country has different economic circumstances and translates the overall EU objectives into national targets in its National Reform Programme – a document which presents the country's policies and measures to sustain growth and jobs and to reach the Europe 2020 targets. The National Reform Programme is presented in parallel with its Stability/Convergence Programme, which sets out the country's budgetary plans for the coming three or four years.