2nd Jun 2020

Poland 'villain' on economic reform scorecard

  • Hiring and firing is flexible in the countries topping the CER's list (Photo: European Commission)

Denmark, Sweden and Austria top the list of this year's Lisbon scorecard on EU states' competitiveness issued by the Centre for European Reform (CER).

The CER's Lisbon Scorecard is a yearly document issued by the London-based think- tank assessing member states' progress on the so-called Lisbon Agenda – the bloc's aim to become the most competitive economy in the world.

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The scorecard is set to be presented on Monday (20 March) to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Denmark and Sweden are once again this year's numbers one and two on the scoreboard, while Austria has climbed from place five to place three, Aurore Wanlin, researcher at the CER told EUobserver.

The UK and the Netherlands took place four and five on the 2006 scorecard, with the Dutch dropping from number three to five on the 27-strong list which comprises the EU-25 plus acceding states.

"Austria has made important reforms in the area of flexible employment," Ms Wanlin explained of Vienna’s surge on the list. She added that "Denmark in particular has shown that flexible labour market rules can be combined with a high level of security, for example by training programmes offered by the state."

The five countries topping the list also did well on innovation and research and development, she said.

The scorecard identifies "heroes" and "villains" in the area of economic reform, on the basis of a set of indicators based on Eurostat figures, as well as on prospects of further reform.

The villains

Poland, which occupies place 26 on the list, has been earmarked as this year's "villain" by the London researchers because of its poor performance on indicators such as long-term unemployment, but also because of its recent shift of government.

"The new government is right-wing populist and the pace of reforms is likely to decrease," said Ms Wanlin.

Poland's government is led by the conservative Law and Justice party, which has been criticised for its protectionism, its dislike of foreign investment and its encroachment on the independence of the country's central bank.

Malta is last on the list, but this is primarily because Eurostat indicators for the Mediterranean island are lacking, said Ms Wanlin.

Other poor performers are newcomers Bulgaria (25) and Romania (24) as well as Italy (23), which was last year's "villain."

France and Germany occupy place eight and ten on the list, with France jumping from place 11 last year primarily because of improving employment figures.

As a whole, the scorecard reveals a "mixed picture," on the EU's progress in meeting its Lisbon goal, said Ms Wanlin.

At the company level, important competitiveness gains have been made, not least in Germany. But the liberalisation of important sectors like energy lags behind.

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