The Government has been warned by the European Commission that it needs to "avoid complacency and strictly follow the objectives" of the EU-IMF programme.

The warning is included in a new European Commission document published today, which includes a broad set of recommendations to most member states on how they should manage their economies.

While praising Ireland's "strong implementation" to date, the commission says "significant challenges and imbalances remain".

One of the problem areas remains the banking sector, where the commission calls for "more forceful action ... to address the still high and growing level of non-performing loans".

The document zones in on a "slow progress" in problem mortgages and SME loans.

The Assessment of the 2013 National Reform and Stability Programme for Ireland also criticises health spending, which it says has "increased significantly and needs to be contained".

The commission also says the fight against high unemployment, especially long-term and youth unemployment, is a priority.

Today’s EC recommendations are part of new rules that were put in place in the wake of the eurozone financial crisis.

Some of these new rules are binding, and have been co-ordinated, so that each year member states are expected to address problem areas in their economies at the same time.

The recommendations look at deficit levels and economic reforms which are needed, such as more spending on research and avoiding things like property bubbles.