Lawyers win again as Troika admits defeat
The European Commission has dropped moves to make the Government slash the cost of legal proceedings and make the legal sector more efficient.
High costs and the need for reform of the legal profession and other “sheltered sectors” of the economy had long been a bug-bear of the Troika during the bailout.
The long-delayed Legal Services Bill, introduced in 2011, has still not been enacted.
But the Commission’s so-called country-specific recommendations for Ireland, published yesterday, focuses on four key areas only – deficit and debt reduction, health costs, jobs and mortgages.
While Brussels noted that legal costs here remain high, and it signalled that they could affect the State’s competitiveness, the call to reduce them is not included among its recommendations.
Instead, it states that officials will continue to “monitor progress in this area”.
The Commission published seven recommendations last year for Ireland. It is understood the reduced number this year reflects a drive by new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to have a more focused approach on the major economic and fiscal issues facing a country.
Brussels also warned that Ireland risked breaching crucial EU rules designed to prevent member state economies from overheating.
It also recommended measures to cut spending on patented medicines, increase the work intensity of households by phasing out the withdrawal of benefits and providing better access to affordable, full-time childcare.
It also wants mortgage-arrears solutions finalised by the end of this year.