EU official: Cyprus managed “incredible turnaround”, steep challenges continue

A top European official, in Cyprus for the European Semester, told MPs on Tuesday that Cyprus has managed an incredible turnaround, but warned at the same time that challenges continue to be steep and that structural reforms still need to be implemented.

You have managed an incredible turnaround in Cyprus, Jean � Eric Paquet, the European Commissions Deputy Secretary General told MPs during a meeting they had in Parliament. Challenges, he added, continue to be steep and structural reforms remain to be implemented.

He further pointed out that a lot could be achieved in 2017 and he expressed the hope that the House of Representatives will contribute to these.

Paquet said he understand that there is a lot of work ongoing as regards the public administration reform, the judicial reform, the education reform and the health system and hospital reform, for which he expressed the Commissions support.

still to be contemplated

He referred to the high level of non performing loans (NPLs), pointing out that it is very much the responsibility of the banks, not so much of the lawmaker or the administration, but that it is imperative that it improves because of its impact on the economy.

Referring to the discussion on the privatisation programme, he noted that, we see some progress

Replying to comments by MPs who stressed the need for social protection steps to be taken the European Commission official said that Jean Claude Juncker has increasingly put a focus on the social dimension of Europe and explained that economic reforms are not done for the sake of economic reforms but of developing our society.

He announced that tomorrow the Commission will adopt a proposal for a European pillar on social rights with 20 principle which will include among others the right to dignified work and the matter of the minimum wage.

Referring to comments about competitiveness he said that Cyprus must be ambitious on its competitiveness because it has potential and he spoke in particular of the areas of tourism and education.

On her part Barbara Kauffmann, DG Social Affairs and Inclusion Director, said that we are happy that there has been some decline on the unemployment and we can see that the social situation is still a case of concern. She noted however that the numbers that we have generally on the social situation tend to have quite a delay.

The employment situation is improving, she said, and it is also likely to improve the social situation, adding that the introduction of the GMI (Guaranteed Minimum Income) was a positive step in the right direction although it may still need to be addressed again at some point.

Source: Cyprus News Agency