On the whole, CEE countries – including Poland – still positively stand out in this respect among its European peers. Yet, this might soon come to an end as Poland’s governing party (LAw and Justice) is planning to introduce significant restrictions on Sunday trade.
Numerous needed reforms and laws guaranteeing and protecting equal rights and freedoms have not been passed in Latvia due to lack of political will or poor public administration (or perhaps both). And in the era of the rise of populism, these advances seem more and more distant and unrealistic.
The Lithuanian Social Democrats have withdrawn from the governing coalition led by the Peasant-Greens, making it a minority governmnent. Of the three Social Democrats Ministers, only Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius will leave his party to remain in the government.
The VAT base in Poland has its weaknesses due to both domestic and EU polices. National authorities overuse reduced rates, making the VAT system too complicated and problematic for businesses while a zero rate on intra-EU trade incentivizes fraud.
Two interesting debates are being led simultaneously in Slovakia. One on subsidies to support the mining of lignite in the upper Nitra region and the other on the unconditional basic income for all. The interconnection between the two could bring so many positive effects that I am left to wonder why nobody has thought of this so far.
Business in Ukraine is slowly recovering from the economic crisis that hit the country several years ago. Entrepreneurs have little trust to the government but plan to speed up their growth and want the authorities to provide fair and favorable conditions for businesses.
The Ministry of Finance proposed to reform customs in Ukraine with the aim of better transparency and predictability. The model of the reform and changes in custom procedures is currently debated between the Ministry of Finance and the representatives of the Parliament and civil society. The reform will hopefully be implemented by the end of 2017.
Despite the craziness of the whole situation, this affair should not be underestimated. Given the escalating relations between Russia and Poland, it is not a very wise move for Warsaw to open another battlefront with Germany. If Poland should hold its positions against Russia, it needs as many strong allies as it can get.
Poles do not know how much and on what the Polish state spends their money. Meanwhile, the structure and size of public spending have a direct impact on their daily lives by influencing the level of taxation and the availability of public services.