TALLINN - The European Commission on Wednesday presented the county-specific recommendations of European Semester Spring Package to member states, as for Estonia, the Commission recommends increasing the resilience of the health care system.
The Commission on Wednesday proposed country-specific recommendations (CSRs) providing economic policy guidance to all EU member states in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, focused on the most urgent challenges brought about by the pandemic and on relaunching sustainable growth, the Commission said in a press release.
In Estonia, the Commission recommends improving access to health care and increasing the resilience of the health care system. To this end, in particular, Estonia should improve the accessibility and resilience of the health system, including by addressing the shortages of health workers, strengthening primary care and ensuring the supply of critical medical products.
The Commission recommends that Estonia strengthen the adequacy of the social safety net, including by broadening the coverage of unemployment benefits.
"In line with the general escape clause, take all necessary measures to effectively address the pandemic, sustain the economy and support the ensuing recovery. When economic conditions allow, pursue fiscal policies aimed at achieving prudent medium-term fiscal positions and ensuring debt sustainability, while enhancing investment," the Commission said in its recommendations.
The Commission also recommended stepping up the efforts to ensure effective supervision and enforcement of the anti-money laundering framework.
In the recommendations, the Commission also highlighted front-loading mature public investment projects and promoting private investment to
foster the economic recovery. According to the recommendations, Estonia should focus investment on the green and digital transition, in particular on digitalization of companies, research and innovation, clean and efficient production and use of energy, resource efficiency, and sustainable transport,
contributing to a progressive decarbonization of the economy. Estonia should also support the innovation capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises, and ensure sufficient access to finance.
On May 20, the Commission issued a report prepared in accordance with Article 126(3) of the Treaty due to Estonia's planned breach of the 3 percent of GDP deficit threshold in 2020. Overall, the analysis suggests that the deficit criterion is not fulfilled. The report takes into account the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on public finances and, as the general exemption clause of the Stability and Growth Pact has been launched, the Commission considers that no decision should be taken at this stage on whether to apply the excessive deficit procedure to member states.
"The coronavirus has hit us like an asteroid and left a crater-shaped hole in the European economy. This spring semester package has been recast and streamlined to provide guidance to our member states as they navigate their way through the storm. For this immediate phase, our focus is on investing in public health and protecting jobs and companies. As we shift to the recovery, the semester will be essential in providing a coordinated approach to put our economies back on the track to sustainable and inclusive growth -- no one should be left behind. We also need reforms to improve productivity and the business environment. Once conditions allow, we will need to strike a balance between achieving fiscal sustainability while also stimulating investment," Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis, said in a press release.
The recommendations cover the four dimensions of competitive sustainability -- stability, fairness, environmental sustainability and competitiveness -- and also place a specific emphasis on health.