RIGA - Latvia has made limited progress in implementing the European Commission’s recommendations but it generally fits in the European Union’s overall context, as several other member states have also made negligible or limited progress on the recommendations, the European Commission’s Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told Saeima members today.
Commenting on the opinion voiced by some Latvian lawmakers that the European Commission’s assessment is critical, Domrovskis disagreed saying that the assessment of Latvia’s performance could be considered fairly good in comparison with several other member states that have drawn much harsher criticism.
Dombrovskis noted that Latvia has continued to show sufficiently strong economic growth, exceeding the EU’s average growth rate and that Latvia’s economic growth has been relatively balanced, based on domestic demand, investment and export figures. The European Commission’s vice president said there were no indications of macroeconomic imbalances in Latvia.
The European Commission has found Latvia’s draft budget for 2019 to be generally in line with the Stability and Growth Pact but there is little maneuvering space in the budget, and unlike Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia is still has not managed to achieved a budget surplus, Dombrovskis said.
The European Commission has also concluded that Latvia’s tax reform has been serving its intended purpose only party and that work is still needed to reduce the tax burden on low-income groups. Furthermore, education should be linked to the labor market’s demands more closely, Dombrovskis said.
The European Commission has found that progress in health care has also been limited and that little progress has been achieved in the management of state-owned and municipal enterprises and the protection of whistleblowers.
The European Commission expects EU member states to submit their national reform programs, outlining medium-term budget targets, by mid-April. After that the Commission will draw up specific recommendations which will be released at the beginning of June, Dombrovskis said.
Today, Dombrovskis met with Latvian parliamentarians at a joint meeting of the Saeima European Affairs Committee and the Social and Labor Affairs Committee.