European Commission publishes the 2017 Country Report for Malta
The European Commission today published its annual analysis of the economic and social challenges – the so-called Country Report – for each Member State, including Malta. The report is a tool under the European Semester for economic policy coordination, to monitor policy reforms and to point early on to challenges that Member States should address, including, where relevant, an assessment of macroeconomic imbalances.
The Report finds that, over all, Malta has made limited progress in addressing the 2016 Country-Specific Recommendations. The main highlights of Malta’s Country Report include:
- Public Finances
Malta’s public finances have significantly improved, benefiting from the favourable macroeconomic environment, with government debt having dropped below 60% of GDP for the first time since 1998. Nevertheless, some risks to long-term sustainability remain, in view of the projected increase in age-related budgetary costs as well as a higher-than-EU-average proportion of corporate incomes taxes in tax revenue, implying higher vulnerability to economic shocks.
- Labour Market
Labour market developments show growth in Malta’s employment rate, alongside a drop in the unemployment rate to record lows. These achievements are consistent with Malta’s Europe 2020 employment target. However, further efforts are still required. Even though female employment rates have steadily increased, participation of older and lower-skilled workers remains considerably low; two groups that are most at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Skills’ supply does not adequately match labour market needs yet, although lifelong learning has generally improved.
The Country Report for Malta finds that gaps persist with respect to raising R&D expenditure, further investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Public administration still suffers from some inefficiency, and access to finance continues to pose structural challenges to investment, particularly for the private sector. Although the adoption of the National Transport Strategy is a welcome step, traffic congestion continues to generate considerable economic and environment costs. Lastly, measures on enhancing Malta’s circular economy and green growth are not sufficiently pursued.
In the months ahead, the European Commission will further pursue close dialogue with Member States as part of the European Semester. Commissioners will visit Member States to meet governments, parliaments, and social partners so as to streamline the economic policy coordination and monitor policy reforms. In April, national governments are requested to present their Reform and Stability Programmes to the Commission, after close consultation with the countries’ stakeholders. The process will lead to the publication of the forthcoming Country-Specific Recommendations for 2017.
The European Semester kick-starts with the publication of the Annual Growth Survey in November each year, together with the announcement of euro area recommendations.
The early publication of the Reports, part of the Juncker Commission’s efforts to streamline and strengthen the European Semester, aims to allow time for a dialogue on national policies with the Member States, in order to highlight the national priorities that the forthcoming Country-Specific Recommendations will address later in spring.
The Country Reports reflect not only the Commission’s findings in the Member States’ compliance with previous Reports and Recommendations, but also the discussions held with national authorities, social partners, NGOs and civil society during a number of meetings and events. The Commission proposes that Member States further ensure ownership of the reform process by involving a wider range of stakeholders, as the success of implementation also relies on various levels of government.
More information can be found in the links below:
Source: European Commission