Niels Thygesen, Roel Beetsma, Massimo Bordignon, Xavier Debrun, Mateusz Szczurek, Martin Larch, Matthias Busse, Mateja Gabrijelcic, Laszlo Jankovics, Janis Malzubris, 16 June 2021

In its latest assessment of the euro area fiscal stance, the European Fiscal Board concludes that national policy plans for 2022 amount to an appropriate fiscal stance for the euro area as a whole. This column discusses how, against the backdrop of a strong economic rebound this year and next and the unwinding of emergency measures, the underlying fiscal deficit of the euro area should halve between 2021 and 2022, while nevertheless remaining well above pre-crisis levels. With significant fiscal support still in the pipeline, more targeted measures should avoid excess economic scarring and encourage sustainable growth while facilitating the green and digital transitions. 

Niels Thygesen, Roel Beetsma, Massimo Bordignon, Xavier Debrun, Mateusz Szczurek, Martin Larch, Matthias Busse, Mateja Gabrijelcic, Laszlo Jankovics, Stefano Santacroce, 08 March 2021

National governments and EU institutions enacted unprecedented budgetary measures to mitigate the economic and social impact of the Covid pandemic, a truly exogenous shock. While everyone agrees that a forceful response was needed, the pandemic magnified a number of pre-existing challenges and vulnerabilities in public finances, which need to be addressed in the coming years. This column discusses this year’s conference of the European Fiscal Board on 26 February, at which a prominent line-up of speakers had an open and inspiring exchange on the future of the EU fiscal framework. 

Niels Thygesen, Roel Beetsma, Massimo Bordignon, Xavier Debrun, Mateusz Szczurek, Martin Larch, Matthias Busse, Mateja Gabrijelcic, Eloïse Orseau, Stefano Santacroce, 26 October 2020

This year’s annual report of the European Fiscal Board provides new evidence that the EU fiscal framework does not deliver the goods. This column argues that it should be reformed without delay. As forging consensus among EU member states takes time, the activation of the general escape clause until end-2021 offers a window of opportunity to build a simpler, leaner and more effective fiscal contract. The year 2019 illustrated once again how EU member states largely failed to build buffers in good times, those very buffers that would have been welcome in the face of the Covid-19 shock. In 2019, and despite sustained economic growth, the aggregate EU government deficit has increased for the first time since 2011 while cases of non-compliance with the preventive arm of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). Like other common shocks before, the pandemic has exposed three long-standing gaps in EMU’s architecture: (1) the lack of a genuine and permanent central fiscal capacity; (2) adverse incentives to maintain or scale up growth-enhancing government expenditure; (3) an intractable set of rules and benchmarks poorly tailored to country-specific debt reduction needs and capacities.

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, 08 April 2016

The euro is unique in that it is a currency without a sovereign. Since the crisis, there have been major developments towards making the Eurozone more resilient, including the banking union and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). This column, originally published 12 February 2016, explores whether further normalisation is required to make the Eurozone function properly. It argues that the Eurozone, unlike existing federations, lacks the ability to deliver counter-cyclical fiscal policies while complying with fiscal discipline. Macroeconomic coordination will thus require rules, a strong and independent European Fiscal Board, and the strengthening of the ESM.

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