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How to enforce fiscal discipline in EMU: A proposal

Summary

Based on Inman’s (1996) classification of successful fiscal policy rules, we argue that the Stability and Growth Pact suffers from two serious weaknesses: a politicized decision-making process and lack of effective instruments to enforce that Member States adjust their fiscal policies if needed. Although recent changes in the European Union’s governance of national fiscal policy are considered to be an improvement, we argue that they do not address these shortcomings sufficiently. More independent enforcement is needed, and our preferred long-term solution would be to delegate the enforcement of European budgetary rules to a fully independent Budgetary Authority. Once the enforcement by this authority is well established and government debt-to-GDP ratios have declined towards 60%, fiscal discipline could be strengthened even further by introducing well-designed Eurobonds as the capstone of EMU. We propose centrally issued Eurobonds for the full public debt under the condition that Member States will no longer be allowed to independently raise funds in the money or capital markets. The independent Budgetary Authority only distributes funds to Member States if they have sustainable fiscal policies as defined under the SGP or if they properly implement a strictly monitored adjustment program.

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Correspondence to Jakob de Haan.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of DNB.

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Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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de Haan, J., Gilbert, N., Hessel, J. et al. How to enforce fiscal discipline in EMU: A proposal. Swiss J Economics Statistics 149, 205–217 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03399389

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03399389

JEL-Classification

  • H6

Keywords

  • debt
  • debt brake
  • fiscal rules
  • European Economic Monetary Union