Bruno Maçães, 09 July 2014

The debate on the future of the European Union is in full swing. In this column, Bruno Macaes – the Portuguese Minister for Europe – stresses the importance of policy coordination in achieving better integration. One way to do so is via a fiscal union, but this creates unity at the expense of diversity. A second way involves formal contracts and partnerships. But to make this approach less rigid, the political dialogue does not need to be formalised in actual contracts.

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, Per Wijkman, 14 June 2014

The Ukraine saw EU soft power met by Russian hard power. This column argues that the EU should counter this hard power using trade policy, among other policies. EU members should agree a common policy and seek support from others to execute this policy. To date, the EU’s response has been too little, too late.

L Alan Winters, 22 May 2014

Most economists cheer the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that the EU is currently negotiating with the US. This column argues it is a pity that TTIP and other mega-regional agreements have emerged. It sees the exclusion of China in particular as an existential threat to the world trading system. It urges policymakers in the EU to focus instead on the world trading system or even consider an agreement with China.

Anish Tailor, Nicolas Véron, 21 May 2014

The European Parliamentary elections are conducted under rules that give voters power that varies with their nationality. This inequality is higher than in European and US national elections, as well as in large emerging-market democracies like Brazil, India, and Indonesia. Making the distribution more equal would be simple, but would require a change in the EU Treaties.

Owen McDougall, Ashoka Mody, 17 May 2014

Turnout in the 2014 European Parliament elections is seen as a critical test for EU democracy. This column presents some predictions. Trust in the ECB – rather than in the European Parliament itself – has been associated with higher turnout in previous elections. Macroeconomic conditions are also important – where a country’s fiscal problems are greater, voters are more inclined to vote.

Nauro Campos, 26 April 2014

Nauro Campos talks to Viv Davies about his recent research with Fabrizio Coricelli and Luigi Moretti that, using data from the various enlargements since the 1970s, yields new results about the benefits that both rich and relatively poor countries, with the exception of Greece, have derived from becoming EU members. Campos estimates the gain in per capita GDP to be approximately 12%. The interview was recorded on 10 April 2014.

Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, 25 April 2014

In reaction to the Crimean crisis, the EU imposed certain sanctions on Russia. Russia responded by blacklisting EU and US officials. This column discusses the comparative vulnerability of the EU and Russia amid this tit for tat pattern. In purely economic terms, the EU is in a much better position than Russia. However, political regimes also matter. The autocracy score for Russia dampens the impact that the economic sanctions would have politically. The democratic nature of the European governments would translate the sanctions imposed by Russia into great political pressure for the EU. This makes the Russian tit for tat threat realistic.

Nauro Campos, Fabrizio Coricelli, Luigi Moretti, 09 April 2014

In the wake of the recent crisis, the debate about the economic benefits from EU membership has intensified. This column presents new results about the benefits countries derive from becoming EU members, using data from the 1980s and 2004 enlargements. There are substantial positive pay-offs, with a gain in per capita GDP of approximately 12%. Despite differences across countries, the evidence shows that the benefits of EU membership outweighed the costs for most countries – except for Greece. An important research question would be to identify factors that allow countries to better exploit EU entry.

Nauro Campos, Fabrizio Coricelli, Luigi Moretti, 27 April 2016

One common concern about membership of the EU is the notion that poorer members have more to gain than richer ones. This column focuses on the countries that joined the EU in 1973 (Denmark, UK and Ireland) and in 1995 (Austria, Finland and Sweden). The authors estimate that these rich countries benefited substantially from joining the EU. Furthermore, while the benefits from EU membership to poorer countries tend to be mostly in terms of per capita income, for richer countries the benefits tend to be mostly in terms of productivity.

Tomaso Duso, Klaus Gugler, Florian Szücs, 26 January 2014

In 2004, European merger law was substantially revised, with the aim of achieving a ‘more economic approach’ to merger policy. This column discusses a recent empirical assessment of European merger cases before and after the reform. Post-reform, the outcomes of merger cases became more predictable, and the Commission prohibited fewer pro-competitive mergers. While there remains room for improvement in several aspects, the reform seems to have been successful in bringing European competition law closer to economic principles.

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Per Wijkman, 25 January 2014

The EU’s Eastern Partnership is currently in turmoil. Armenia and Ukraine – two of the four partner countries (which also include Moldova and Georgia) did not initial association agreements. This column discusses the role of Russia in discouraging such negotiations. The soft power of the EU was apparently no match for the hard power of Russia in the cases of Armenia and Ukraine. A successful partnership would require peaceful international relations between the four partners, and solving their conflicts with Russia.

Nauro Campos, 22 December 2013

Mass political protests are erupting in Ukraine. The conventional wisdom views them as driven by popular dissatisfaction with the government’s rejection of the EU agreement. This column argues that the main cause for the protests is the weak institutional framework that emerged after the collapse of communism. Therefore, a potential EU involvement will be most beneficial in providing a stable institutional setting. Utilising this historical moment is important in order for Ukraine to avoid the example of Argentina.

Carlo Carraro, Thomas Longden, Giacomo Marangoni, Massimo Tavoni, 27 November 2013

In recent years, European coal consumption has increased, while natural gas consumption has declined – despite Europe’s commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. This perverse scenario is partly attributable to EU policies. Subsidies to renewables and energy efficiency targets have the unfortunate side effect of lowering carbon prices, thus partially offsetting their environmental benefits. Raising the EU carbon price would be preferable to employing multiple policy instruments, since it would minimise distortions in energy markets, achieve cost efficiency, and raise fiscal revenues.

Mario Mariniello, 22 September 2013

Cartel fines imposed by the European Commission routinely reach hundreds of millions of euro, having increased since the new 2006 fining policy. This column argues that they are still below their optimal level and come too slowly. Fines were often lower than the additional cartel profits and imposed 10 to 20 years after making the law-breaking decision was made – sometimes after the responsible managers had retired. To speed investigations, the Commission should Increase resources dedicated to inquiries; fines should also be raised.

Joakim Ruist, 17 September 2013

This year the free movement of eastern European workers within the EU has been questioned. Fearing excessive use of their own welfare systems, governments have argued for continued access restrictions. This column presents research showing that eastern European migrants have been net contributors to public finances of the richer EU15 nations that received them.

Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais, Emmanuel Saez, Esben Schultz, 17 September 2013

How responsive is international migration by high-skilled workers to tax differentials across countries? This column provides evidence from Denmark suggesting that a preferential scheme was highly successful in attracting rich foreigners. It warns that, absent international tax coordination, preferential tax schemes to high-income foreigners could substantially weaken tax progressivity at the top of the distribution.

Jeffrey Frankel, 07 August 2013

Can international trade be good for the environment? This column assesses the EU-Chinese anti-dumping dispute in detail, and argues that trade could well be the saviour of solar power. Trade was good for protecting against things like sulphur dioxide, in the case of automobiles, 30 years ago. The same is true of trade in solar equipment today. Westerners should celebrate the contribution of trade to reducing the cost of solar power, not block it with protectionist anti-dumping measures.

Liam Brunt, Edmund Cannon, 27 July 2013

The EU justifies its funding of large-scale transport infrastructure projects by arguing that it leads to more market integration. Does it work? This column uses evidence from Britain and its Industrial Revolution to assess the extent to which transport infrastructure projects increase market integration. By comparing industrialising Britain with today’s EU, the EU’s record turns out to be quite good and its investment in large infrastructure projects has led to significant price dispersion. However, recent financial turmoil has undermined its efforts in recent years.

Patrick Messerlin, 16 April 2013

Mega-regional trade arrangements are being negotiated in Asia. This column asks how Europe should respond and assesses which Asian trade deals would provide the biggest boost and the best insurance against discriminatory effects. The evidence tentatively suggests Europe’s best bets are Japan and Taiwan.

Simon Evenett, Robert Stern, 21 March 2013

The US and the EU have announced their intentions to launch trade talks – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This column argues that this should not be thought of as a standard tariff-lowering deal with a few extras thrown in for good measure. Rather, we don’t really know what it will do because trade economists have failed to develop the necessary tools for understanding its impact. It is time for policy analysts to re-tool.

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