All Visegrad countries (i.e. the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland) have decreased their structural budget deficits below 3% of GDP by 2014 and, consequently, exited the Excessive Deficit Procedure – corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact of the EU. The external pressure from the European Commission played a crucial role in stabilizing their public finances after the crisis hit their economies in 2009 and 2010. In Poland and Slovakia also the internal debt brake rules added substantially to this pressure.
The implemented consolidation measures included increase in the retirement age (Poland), increase in direct income taxes and increase in the efficiency of tax collection (Slovakia), increase in VAT taxes (Poland, Slovakia), temporary freezing of public workers’ salaries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia), cuts in several social benefits (all Visegrad countries) and many others.