13 December, 2006
Limited progress has been seen so far in implementing the Greek National Reform Program for growth and jobs, the European Union's executive Commission said in a report released on Tuesday.
The bloc-wide analysis, which is part of the Commission's latest annual progress report on the Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy, will be submitted to EU leaders at a European spring summit in March 2007. The leaders will be invited to formally adopt recommendations aimed at helping individual member states and securing agreement on action.
"The Commission concludes that progress towards meeting the challenges facing Greece has been limited. Though Greece is moving ahead relatively strongly in the macro-economic area, progress with micro-economic and employment reforms are still insufficient. There is a limited policy response to commitments made by the 2006 Spring European Council. Regarding governance, better coordination and stronger ownership among administrative levels are needed," the report said.
"The Commission identifies as a particular strength of the reform process in Greece: the good progress made on the consolidation of public finances. There are also promising signs of progress on: improving public resource allocation; improving the business environment; R&D and innovation; ICT; and education and training," it noted.
The Commission made the following recommendations to Greece:
to ensure continuation of fiscal consolidation and debt reduction and fix a timetable for the implementation of pension reform with a view to improving long-term fiscal sustainability
to modernize its public administration by building up effective regulatory, control and enforcement capacities, including through upgrading skills, to ensure effective use of Structural Funds
to modernize employment protection including legislation, reduce the tax wedge on labor, and strengthen active labor policies to foster flexibility and security in the labor market and transform undeclared work into formal employment
to increase investment in compulsory and higher education, implement the reform of lifelong learning and improve quality and responsiveness to labor market needs, reduce early school leaving, and increase adult participation
In addition, the Commission said that it will be important for Greece to focus on accelerating efforts to set up a research and innovation strategy and increase investment in R&D; improve the incorporation of internal market directives; ensure that structural funds are used effectively to help underpin Greece's reform policies, including environmental protection; speed up progress towards meeting SME policy targets set by the 2006 Spring European Council; implement policies to encourage women's participation in employment; and put in place a consistent active ageing strategy.
The EU's Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy aims to reform Europe's economies to secure a prosperous, fair and environmentally sustainable future, by ensuring that Europe is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities offered by globalisation and to cope with demographic changes that will mean more older people and fewer young people of working age in society, the Commission stated.
Source: Athens News Agency