Broad economic policy guidelines (2001)
To improve the conditions for economic growth and employment creation by way of an economic policy strategy consisting of growth- and stability-oriented macroeconomic policies and structural reforms aimed at sustainable, employment-creating and non-inflationary growth, with due account being taken of the need for sustainable development.
Council Recommendation of 15 June 2001 on the broad economic policy guidelines of the Member States and the Community [Official Journal L 179, 02.07.2001].
General framework. The 2001 broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) confirm the policy strategies of the previous BEPGs and extends them further in the light of the outcome of the Stockholm European Council in March 2001. A key objective for the European Union (EU) remains that of achieving full employment, among other things as a means of meeting the challenge of ageing populations. The European Council also stressed that the promotion of sustainable development should be integrated in the BEPGs.
Close coordination among economic policy actors and a dialogue between the Council, the Eurogroup and the European Central Bank (ECB) involving the Commission are essential in fostering harmonious economic developments, notably for the Member States participating in the euro area.
Main priorities and policy requirements
Recent and prospective economic developments. Since the adoption of the previous BEPGs, the global economic environment has become distinctly less favourable. While this slowdown is expected to be relatively short-lived, the risks of a less favourable outcome are considerable. Three factors are contributing to the slowdown. Firstly, oil prices increased in the autumn of 2000 and could remain relatively high. Secondly, there has been a sharp contraction in economic activity in the United States and Japan. This development is also affecting economic growth in a number of emerging countries. Third, volatility has remained very high on global equity markets, where a pronounced correction has taken place, especially in technology stocks, reflecting a downward shift in investors' perception of the long-term profit outlook.
The second year of economic and monetary union (EMU) was a successful one. Economic growth in the euro area was the strongest for a decade, with unemployment falling to its lowest level. Higher oil prices and the downturn in global demand dented growth momentum. Nevertheless, the euro area looks set to continue to enjoy relatively solid economic growth of about 2.75% in 2001 and 2002. Strongly improved macroeconomic fundamentals, including sustained wage moderation, have engendered a virtuous growth cycle firmly rooted in domestic demand. Furthermore, the large internal market coupled with the single currency makes the euro area less vulnerable and provides a stable base for growth.
The Member States not participating in the euro area, viz. Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden, are also being affected by the global economic slowdown. However, good progress on structural reforms and continuing healthy domestic demand position them well to weather the deteriorating external environment.
Short-term challenges. The task is to maintain growth and employment creation. In the context of increasingly less favourable global conditions, the EU and the euro area will have to rely increasingly on their own strengths. Growth- and stability-oriented macroeconomic policies and structural reforms are crucial to further enhancing internal growth dynamics. This could underpin business and consumer confidence.
Budgetary policies should avoid any excess demand. This is buttressing price stability and can facilitate monetary conditions conducive to economic growth and employment creation. In particular, budgetary policies should continue to be geared to the achievement of budgetary positions close to balance or in surplus.
Wage moderation must be preserved, particularly in the Member States already experiencing some labour market bottlenecks. EMU entails additional responsibilities for governments and social partners, who must contribute to a balanced macroeconomic policy mix both at Member State and euro-area level. Moreover, a judicious combination of structural reforms can thus increase further the resilience of the economy in absorbing the impact of shocks.
Medium-term challenges. The main goal is to consolidate the bases for future growth and employment. Although productivity gains have helped to improve potential output growth in recent years, this improvement is still considered insufficient to sustain annual growth rates of 3% over an extended period of time. The EU must, therefore, improve the functioning of markets by addressing the market imperfections or failures that still exist. This will make for improved use of productive resources. In particular, human resources are currently underutilised in the EU, with unemployment remaining unacceptably high and a relatively low employment rate, especially for older workers and women.
Labour market regulation and institutions should be reviewed so as to diminish obstacles to labour demand and supply. The regulatory framework should encourage people to enter into or remain in the labour market. For this, tax and benefit schemes should be reformed. This increase in labour supply must be accompanied by an improvement in the investment climate. To this end, the EU is focusing on completing the internal market, especially in the service sector, the financial sector and network industries. In addition, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, which is an integral part of the Lisbon strategy, is necessary in order to increase Europe's growth potential. To this same end, Member States are called on to encourage private investment in Research and Development R&D.
At world level, the promotion of competition finds its logical complement in the pursuit of a common commercial policy that favours open world trade and a new multilateral trade round within the context of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Long-term challenges. In the long term, population ageing is the major challenge facing the EU. In 2050 the EU's working-age population will have fallen by approximately 40 million people while the old-age dependency ratio will have doubled. The impact on public finances is already beginning to be felt in some Member States. Expenditure on public pensions and healthcare will increase substantially, and this will have considerable consequences for the sustainability of public finances.
Population-ageing will have implications for potential labour supply and the level of aggregate savings and thus for economic growth. Ambitious strategies are needed to address the economic and budgetary challenges: pension systems need to be reformed, e.g. by raising the effective retirement age. Public pension fund reserves would have to be set up and supplementary private pension schemes encouraged.
Implementation of macroeconomic policies:
- to achieve budget positions of close to balance or in surplus so as to provide a sufficient margin to cope with the impact of adverse cyclical fluctuations;
- to avoid pro-cyclical fiscal policies;
- to avoid in certain Member States inflationary pressures and overheating of the economy by tightening budgetary policy, pursuing wage moderation and taking structural reforms further;
- to ensure that wage increases are consistent with price stability, do not exceed the growth of productivity and take account of productivity differences according to skill, qualification or geographical area.
Quality and sustainability of public finances:
- to make tax and benefit systems more employment-friendly by reducing the overall tax burden, especially with respect to low-wage labour;
- to redirect public expenditure towards physical and human capital accumulation and R&D;
- to enhance the efficiency of public spending by institutional and structural reforms, in particular by controlling spending;
- to improve the long-term sustainability of public finances by pursuing a strategy combining measures to raise employment rates, rapidly reduce government debt and reform the pension and health systems;
- to pursue tax coordination in order to avoid harmful tax competition;
- to maintain strict budgetary discipline at Community level.
- to implement the employment guidelines and recommendations addressed to Member States by the Council;
- to promote increased participation in the labour market, especially among women and older workers;
- to ensure that tax and benefit systems make work pay and to reduce the burden of taxation on labour;
- to bring down the obstacles to labour mobility within and between Member States, notably through the mutual recognition of qualifications and improved portability of pensions;
- to facilitate occupational labour mobility by improving education, training and life-long learning;
- to improve the efficiency of active labour market policies and to target these policies towards those individuals most prone to the risk of long-term unemployment;
- to promote more flexible work organisation, including working-time arrangements and the regulatory, contractual and legal framework;
- to reduce gender pay differences due to de facto discrimination.
Product markets (goods and services):
- to complete the internal market by increasing the rate of transposal of directives, eliminating technical barriers to trade, removing regulatory barriers on service markets and further opening up public procurement;
- to reinforce competition by accelerating the liberalisation of network industries (energy, rail, air transport and postal services), by ensuring effective independence and effectiveness of the competition authorities and by reducing the overall level of state aid as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP).
Efficiency and integration of the EU financial services market:
- to implement the approach endorsed in respect of securities markets legislation;
- to implement the Financial Services Action Plan by 2005, in particular with a view to creating an integrated securities market by the end of 2003;
- to set in place a risk capital market through implementation of the Risk Capital Action Plan by 2003;
- to improve, via increasing linkages, supervisory arrangements across sectors and across borders in the field of prudential supervision.
- to create a business-friendly environment by reducing the administrative burden for business, by increasing the efficiency of public services and by simplifying and ensuring a more uniform application of VAT systems;
- to improve access to the various kinds of funding, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their early stages.
- to stimulate R&D and innovation, notably by strengthening intellectual property rights and achieving agreement on how to deliver the Community patent, by improving ties between universities and business, by enhancing collaboration in Europe via networks of centres of excellence and by ensuring sufficient funding;
- to promote access and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by implementing the unbundling of the "local loop" in order to reduce the costs of using the Internet, by ensuring more widespread use of the Internet in schools and in public administrations and by strengthening the regulatory framework for e-commerce;
- to strengthen education and training efforts by increasing the number of experts and the basic skills, in particular ICT skills, of the population and by enhancing the capabilities of education systems to respond to changes in requirements.
- to implement the European sustainable development strategy agreed by the Gothenburg European Council;
- to introduce and strengthen market-based policies such as taxation and user and polluter charges;
- to reduce sectoral subsidies and tax exemptions;
- to intensify the use of economic instruments in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions and fulfil the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol;
- to agree on an appropriate framework for energy taxation at European level and for the creation of a single market in energy.
Country-specific economic policy guidelines
Belgium: After the economy expanded by 4% in 2000, real GDP is expected to increase at around 3% in 2001 and 2002. Belgium managed to balance its budget in 2000. The government is projecting a surplus of 0.2% in 2001 and 0.3% in 2002. It should take steps to ensure that the surplus projected in its stability programme is achieved and to contain the increase in expenditure within the limit set. In 2002 and beyond, the budgetary margins should be used to reduce debt.
To prepare the country for the implications of population ageing, a reform of the pension system is needed. On the labour market, the reform of the tax and benefit systems should be continued. In addition, labour market flexibility and labour mobility should be enhanced.
Competition in transport, gas and electricity needs to be increased. Belgium is encouraged to increase the transparency of the links between the public and private sectors, notably at local level, and to simplify the administrative burden on businesses. The risk capital market should be further developed.
Denmark: The economic expansion is expected to slow somewhat to slightly above 2% in 2001. According to the government, the budget surplus should increase to 2.8% of GDP in 2001 and 2.6% in 2002. Denmark should strictly limit the increase in government consumption in 2001 and in the medium term and should maintain high government surpluses.
If the labour market is to remain one of the best in the European Union, the government should further reduce the overall fiscal pressure on labour, especially for low- and medium-wage earners, and should continue reforms of transfer systems. It should also strengthen enforcement of competition rules and should enhance conditions for competition in public procurement and develop the risk capital market by further adapting the fiscal framework so as to facilitate investment.
Germany: Economic growth in Germany should be 2.25% in 2001 and 2.5% in 2002. Leaving aside UMTS proceeds, the government deficit fell to 1.0% of GDP in 2000. According to the stability programme and thanks to the tax reform, the deficit should be 0.5% in 2001 before falling gradually to zero by 2004. The government should ensure that projected deficits are met. Higher-than-projected revenues should be used to reduce the deficit. It is important to reinforce coordination among the various levels of government in order to establish a national stability pact. The government is called on to pursue pension reform and reform of the healthcare sector.
Active labour market programmes should be made more efficient and targeted towards long-term unemployment. Reforms of the tax system should make work pay. Non-labour costs should also be reduced. Competition on product markets and in public procurement could be reinforced. The higher education system should be reformed in order to meet the shortages of IT personnel. The government is called on to develop the risk capital market.
Greece: Economic activity in Greece is expected to accelerate in 2000, with GDP set to rise by 4.8% in 2002. The stability programme projects that the Greek budget will run a surplus of 0.5% in 2001 and 1.5% in 2002. The government's budgetary stance for 2001/2002 is oriented towards price stability and towards pursuing the reform of the public sector in order to reduce its size in the medium term and to accelerate the reform of the social security sector in order to ensure the viability of the system.
Greece should press ahead with its labour market reforms by loosening restrictive employment protection legislation in particular and should improve incentives to work in the formal sector of the economy. Wages should take better account of productivity and local labour market conditions. Investment in education and training should also be stepped up.
The government is called on to reduce the administrative burden on business and to encourage investment in R&D and the wider diffusion of ICT. Moreover, the liberalisation of the gas and sea transport sectors should be speeded up. The risk capital market should be developed further by easing constraints on institutional investors.
Spain: Economic growth in Spain is forecast to decelerate in 2001 compared with previous years and to recover slightly in 2002. According to the stability programme, the budget is expected to be in balance in 2001 and to show a surplus of 0.3% by 2004. The government should hold back current expenditure in order to achieve a budget balance in 2001 and should monitor inflationary pressures. The tax reform planned for 2002 must not jeopardise the budgetary objectives. The public pension fund reserve must be increased.
As regards the labour market, Spain is called on to reform the wage formation process in order to take better account of productivity differentials, to invest in education and training (in particular, to tailor active employment policies more closely to labour market requirements) and to take steps to ensure a balance between flexibility and security. The basic ICT skills of the population and the supply of highly qualified personnel should also be increased. The regulatory framework for SMEs should be simplified. The government is also called on to develop the risk capital market further, especially by easing constraints on institutional investors.
France: In 2001 and 2002 economic growth of just under 3% is expected. The public deficit in 2000 was below target. According to the stability programme, further reductions in the deficit are to be pursued in order to run a budget surplus in 2004. To this end, the government should monitor public spending in 2001 and beyond and use any available margin to strengthen the budgetary position as preparation for meeting long-term challenges. It is therefore called on to make further progress in reforming the pension system.
On the labour market, France should consolidate recent reforms of the tax and benefit systems and should pay particular attention to early retirement schemes and income guarantee schemes. It should monitor closely the effects of the implementation of the 35-hour working week and should reform employment protection. Network industries, especially the gas and electricity sectors, should be liberalised. France is called on to continue the reduction of ad hoc state aid, to reduce the administrative burden on businesses and to develop the risk capital market, notably by easing constraints on institutional investors.
Ireland: The buoyant economic growth recorded in Ireland is expected to slow down somewhat in 2001 and 2002. The stability programme projects budget surpluses of around 4.2% of GDP for the period 2001-03. Public finances are sound. However, in February the Council issued a recommendation to Ireland on account of the expansionary budget for 2001. The government has therefore been called on to use countervailing measures to align the budget plans for 2001 more closely with the 2000 BEPGs and to prepare a budget for 2002 that contributes to an easing of the pace of demand and to improved expenditure control. While budgetary stability should be observed, investment in infrastructure, human capital and R&D should be increased.
The government should take care to ensure that wage developments remain consistent with price stability and that the participation of women in the labour market is increased. Measures are needed to introduce more competition into specific markets, notably transport, electricity and gas, to increase R&D expenditure and to develop the risk capital market further.
Italy: Economic activity in Italy is expected to slow down in 2001 but to pick up again in 2002. According to the stability programme, the government deficit is projected to improve in 2001 and 2002 and to reach a balance in 2003. The government should ensure that these objectives are met and, in particular, should match any losses of revenue stemming from tax reductions with offsetting expenditure cuts and rationalisation measures. Every opportunity should be taken to accelerate the reduction in the still excessive level of government debt. The domestic stability pact must be strengthened in order to control expenditure at all levels of government. To ensure the sustainability of long-term government finances, the pension system needs to be reviewed.
As regards the labour market, Italy is called upon to ensure that wage developments take better account of productivity, to increase labour market flexibility and to reform the taxation of labour and social security contributions, notably for those at the lowest end of the wage scale. The government should aim to promote business sector involvement in R&D, foster the diffusion of ICT, press ahead with the liberalisation of the energy sector, further reduce the administrative burden on businesses, increase competition and further develop the risk capital market, in particular by easing constraints on institutional investors.
Luxembourg: Economic growth will be around 5% of GDP in 2001 and 2002 on the back of strong domestic demand. The budget surplus in 2001 and 2002 should decline to between 3% and 4% of GDP in the wake of a tax reform. The government should pursue a more restrictive budgetary policy in order to counter inflationary pressures and to monitor government expenditures closely.
On the labour market, Luxembourg should increase its national employment rate, especially for women and older workers. The reform of competition legislation should be implemented while fixed and monitored prices should be abolished.
Netherlands: The recent macroeconomic performance in the Netherlands has been noteworthy. Economic growth is expected to increase by some 3% in 2001 and 2002. According to the stability programme, the government surplus is projected to fall to 0.7% in 2001 following tax reforms. The government should maintain control of public expenditure in order to contain inflationary pressures and improve the budgetary outcome in 2002 as against 2001. Budgetary margins should be used to speed up the reduction in government debt.
As regards the labour market, the government is called upon to continue reforms of the tax and benefit system to make work pay. The Netherlands should promote the use of ICT, create a climate more conducive to innovation, facilitate market entry in electricity, gas, cable networks and public transport, and further develop the risk capital market.
Austria: Economic activity is expected to grow by some 2.5% in 2001 and growth will remain buoyant in 2002. A budgetary consolidation programme has been launched and, according to the stability programme, the government deficit is projected to fall to 0.75% in 2001 and zero in 2002. The government is called on to ensure tight budgetary execution at all levels of government in order to meet the targets of the stability programme, to reduce the tax burden in subsequent years without jeopardising budgetary consolidation and to reform the pension and healthcare systems so as to counter rising expenditure and to cope with population ageing.
As regards the labour market, Austria should take steps to ensure that there are greater incentives for older workers to remain active. In addition, the Community's public procurement directives should be transposed and public procurement should be further opened up to competition, while development of the knowledge-based economy should be promoted, the supply of ICT-skilled personnel increased and the risk capital market further developed, notably by easing constraints on institutional investors.
Portugal: Economic activity is likely to slow down and growth is estimated at just over 2.5% in 2001 and 2002. According to the stability programme, the deficit should fall to 1.1% in 2001 and 0.7% in 2002. The government is expected to meet its budgetary target in 2001 and, to this end, should adhere strictly to current expenditure plans, prepare a budget for 2002 which aims at a faster decline in the deficit than planned in the stability programme, preferably by reducing expenditure, and reform the social security and healthcare systems.
As regards the labour market, Portugal is called on to increase investment in the education and training systems, enhance the quality of work and modernise labour market institutions. It should also raise the level of R&D investment, promote the diffusion of ICT, reduce state aid, liberalise the energy sector and develop the risk capital market, notably by easing constraints on institutional investors.
Finland: Economic growth is forecast to be around 4% in 2001 and 2002. The budget is in healthy surplus and, according to the stability programme, a surplus equivalent to some 4% of GDP seems possible in the medium term. The government should adhere to the expenditure target and maintain government surpluses in 2001 and beyond in order to contend with population ageing, to which Finland is particularly exposed. The policy of debt reduction should be pursued and the effective retirement age should be raised.
On the labour market, the government is called on to reduce tax rates, especially for low-wage earners, adapt social security benefits in order to improve incentives to take up job offers and to stay in the labour force, and to increase the efficiency of active labour market programmes. In addition, compliance with public procurement rules should be enhanced, competition in distribution, construction and the media sector increased and the risk capital market further developed.
Sweden: Economic activity has slowed down somewhat and growth is forecast at 2.7% in 2001 and 3% in 2002. According to the convergence programme, the budget surplus should be 3.5% and 3.3% respectively. The government is called on to maintain high government surpluses in 2001 and subsequent years, to continue with its strategy of lowering taxes while attaining the medium-term surplus target of 2% and to reduce public debt.
As regards the labour market, Sweden is called upon to ensure the efficiency of active labour market programmes and pursue reforms of the tax and benefit systems. In addition, compliance with public procurement rules should be enhanced and competition increased in air transport and pharmaceuticals. Sweden is also called on to develop the risk capital market further by adapting the fiscal framework.
United Kingdom: Economic growth should reach 2.7% in 2001 and 3% in 2002. The recent budgetary projections show a surplus of 1.7% of GDP (excluding UMTS receipts) in the financial year 2000/01, with a reduction to 0.5% predicted for the following year and a slight deficit thereafter. The government should ensure that the targets are achieved and, as announced, could double public investment while ensuring that the rules of the stability and growth pact are met.
As regards the labour market, the United Kingdom is called on to reinforce the measures targeted at those individuals most prone to the risk of unemployment and reform benefit schemes so as to provide the necessary incentives. It should also address the low level of productivity, increase competition in banking and postal services, step up investment in public transport and encourage pension funds to play a greater role in developing the risk capital market.
5) FOLLOW-UP WORK
Commission report on the implementation of the 2001 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines [COM(2002) 93 final, not published in the Official Journal].
Overview of key policy areas
Implementation of macroeconomic policies. The macroeconomic environment deteriorated much more sharply than expected in 2001 because of a number of adverse economic shocks and the terrorist attacks of 11 September, which brought economic growth to a standstill towards the end of the year. Employment growth decelerated but remained positive and inflation fell during the year.
Given the lower risks to price stability the monetary authorities cut interest rates on several occasions. The budget position deteriorated on account of the economic slowdown as the automatic stabilisers took effect and following the tax reforms in a number of countries. The EU-wide budget deficit increased from 0.1% of GDP in 2000 to 0.5% in 2001, while the euro-area budget deficit rose from 0.8% to 1.1% (net of UMTS receipts). It was only in Greece, Spain, Italy and Austria that outcomes were better than in 2000.
While the trend in nominal wages remained moderate in 2001, the euro area witnessed an acceleration in real wages slightly in excess of labour productivity growth.
Quality and sustainability of public finances. The share of government expenditure in GDP decreased while public investment remained stable in many Member States, fostering growth and employment. An increasing number of Member States introduced reforms aimed at containing expenditure through multiannual programmes and agreements between different levels of government. The long-term sustainability of public finances made mixed progress depending on the Member State concerned. Several Member States achieved budget surpluses, while others (Germany, France, Italy and Portugal) still have some way to go. Several Member States successfully pursued reforms of pension systems that are becoming urgent in view of population ageing.
Labour market. The labour market suffered from the economic environment and employment growth fell to 1.1%, the unemployment rate having decreased slightly to 7.8% by the end of the year. The situation differs between Member States. Many countries reformed their benefit systems and, in so doing, reduced the tax burden on labour, notably for low-wage earners. The reforms of benefit systems are not sufficiently targeted towards enhancing work incentives. In only a few cases were measures taken to boost geographical mobility, whether between Member States or within them. Spain, Greece and Portugal are reforming their educational system in general. Most countries are having difficulty in better targeting active labour market policies. The organisation of working time has become more flexible in recent years in some Member States (part-time work, fixed-term contracts, temporary agency work and teleworking).
Product market (goods and services). Progress has been mixed. Goods markets are becoming increasingly integrated. The transposal of internal market directives improved. However, barriers to cross-border trade still exist for a number of specific products. By contrast, little progress was made in creating an internal market in services. The opening-up of public procurement markets continued. The reinforcement of competition resulted in lower prices in the telecommunications and electricity sectors. However, differences persist between Member States and between sectors, while the liberalisation process is less advanced as regards railways and postal services. Overall state aid, the data on which are available only with some time lag, continued to decrease in the vast majority of Member States and transparency improved. The EU average declined to 1.2% of GDP in 1997-99.
Efficiency and integration of EU financial markets. Regulation of European securities markets made good progress following the agreement of the European Parliament on the approach proposed by the Committee of Wise Men. Implementation of the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP) progressed significantly, as did implementation of the Risk Capital Action Plan (RCAP). Several Member States took measures aimed at developing the risk capital market.
Entrepreneurship. A great variety of measures were taken to reduce the regulatory burden on business, to stimulate business creation and to ease access to finance for SMEs. Differences do though remain between Member States, notably in the area of taxation. Most Member States took measures to promote business start-ups and SMEs. Initiatives were launched to reduce the business tax burden.
Knowledge-based economy. The Member States took various measures to increase business investment in R&D. However, the deadline for agreeing on how to deliver the Community patent was missed. The ICT take-up was only moderate in comparison with previous years. Progress in unbundling the local loop was slow. In spite of the fall in Internet access prices and the increase in Internet access at home, the EU did not close the gap with the United States. The share of schools in which pupils have access to the Internet is above 70% in most Member States. A number of governments took measures to increase the number of ICT experts and to promote basic ICT skills among the population.
Sustainable development. Various initiatives were launched, including the Directive on emissions trading and the White Paper on the European Transport Policy. Progress in Member States included the following: the United Kingdom and Denmark introduced a system of tradable emission permits, while several other countries are examining the possibility of so doing. Although a large number of different measures were taken by Member States to promote sustainable development, the discussions on energy taxation made little or no progress.
Assessment by Member State
Belgium. Belgium made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations and the labour market recommendations, but no major measures were taken to promote more wage flexibility. Some progress was made with regard to product markets while there was good progress in developing the risk capital market.
Denmark. The government made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations of the 2001 BEPGs, while limited progress was made in implementing the 2001 labour market recommendation. Some progress was made in implementing the product market and capital market recommendations.
Germany. Progress was made in implementing the budgetary recommendations even though budget deficits increased markedly in the wake of the economic downturn and tax reforms. Some progress was made on the labour market and the "Job Aktiv" law is a first step in the right direction although more needs to be done. The government made good progress in implementing the product market recommendations and there was also progress in implementing the capital market recommendations.
Greece. Some progress was made on the budgetary front, leading to a significant improvement in the government finance situation. The reform of the social security sector has not yet been initiated. On product markets too, some progress was made, although in some areas such as R&D and competition progress was slow. The government made some progress with the capital market recommendations.
Spain. Spain made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations; It is likely to have met the target of a balanced budget in 2001. Some progress was made on the labour market while substantial progress was made with regard to the product and capital markets.
France. France made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations although budgetary adjustment slowed down markedly. Some progress was made regarding the labour market but no legislation was introduced to increase employment protection. Some progress was made as regards the product and capital markets
Ireland. The government made satisfactory progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made with labour market reforms and on capital markets, while good progress was made as regards the product market recommendations.
Italy. Italy made some progress on the budgetary front and consolidation continued. Some progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendations. The government also took measures to implement the product and capital market recommendations of the BEPGs.
Luxembourg. The government correctly implemented the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendation but implementation of the product market recommendations does leave something to be desired.
Netherlands. Altogether, the Netherlands made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made on the budgetary front but there has still not yet been any reform of the disability scheme. Good progress was made in implementing the product market recommendations while there was some progress in implementing the capital market recommendations.
Austria. The government made good progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Some progress was made as regards labour and capital markets while more significant progress was made regarding the capital market.
Portugal. Altogether, Portugal made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations although the deficit increased in the wake of the economic slowdown. Some progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendations but employment protection legislation was not eased. Progress on product markets was satisfactory and some progress was made on capital markets.
Finland. Altogether, Finland made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations and the budgetary position remained sound. Good progress was made on the labour market, where efforts were aimed at reducing structural unemployment. Some progress was made in implementing the product and capital market recommendations.
Sweden. The budgetary recommendations of the BEPGs were implemented satisfactorily. Good progress was also made in implementing the labour market recommendations. However, limited progress was made in implementing the product market recommendations and no measures were taken to increase competition in specific sectors. Some progress was made in implementing the capital market recommendations.
United Kingdom. The government made some progress in implementing the budgetary recommendations. Good progress was made in implementing the labour market recommendations and some progress was made as regards product and capital markets.