Skip to main content

The Swedish fiscal policy framework and intermediate fiscal policy targets


Sweden is a front-runner in defining intermediate targets for fiscal policy (fiscal rules) as well as in setting up an independent fiscal council to monitor and comment on developments. Swedish public finances are among the most sound in the OECD having been able to consolidate public finances and ensure fiscal sustainability, and they have maintained room for fiscal manoeuvre also during the financial crisis. This paper takes a closer look at the Swedish case as the stepping stone for a more general discussion of how to set intermediate targets for fiscal policy and the role fiscal councils may have in strengthening political accountability and thus ultimately credibility of fiscal policy. The Swedish fiscal framework is compared to the fiscal compact for EU countries, and it is argued that it has a number of desirable features.


  • Aasdalen, Helga B., Yngwar Dyvi, Anders Harilstad, Per M. Konsrud and Pal Sletten (2011), «Finansdepartementets beregning af strukturell, oljekorrigert budsjettbalanse», Finansdepartementet, Arbeidsnotat, Oslo.

  • Andersen, Torben M. (2010), “Fiscal Sustainability in the Wake of the Financial Crisis”, Nordic Economic Policy Review 1, pp. 71–109.

    Google Scholar 

  • Andersen, Torben M. (2012), “Fiscal Policy Targeting under Imperfect Information”, Journal International Money and Finance forthcoming.

  • Baumann, Elke, Elmar Dönnebrink, and Christian Kastrop (2008), “A Concept for a New Budget Rule for Germany”, CESifo Forum 2/2008, pp. 37–45.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bovens, Mark (2006), “Analysing and Assessing Public Accountability – A Conceptual Framework”, EUROGOV Working Paper C-06-01.

  • Calmfors, Lars (2003), “Fiscal Policy to Stabilize the Domestic Economy in the EMU”, CESifo Economic Studies, 9, pp. 19–53.

    Google Scholar 

  • Calmfors, Lars (2012), “Sweden: Watchdog with a Broad Remit”, CESifo Working Paper No. 3725.

  • Calmfors, Lars, and Simon Wren-Lewis (2011), “What Should Fiscal Councils Do?”, Economic Policy, 26, pp. 649–695.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • European Commission (2012), Sustainability Report 2009, Bruxelles: European Commission 2012.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ecofin Council (2005), Specifications on the Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact and Guidelines on the Format and Concept of Stability and Convergence Programmes, Brussels.

  • European Council (2011), Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, Brussels.

  • Flodén, Martin (2012), “A Role Model for the Conduct of Fiscal Policy? Experiences from Sweden”, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 9095.

  • Girouard, Nathalie, and Christophe André (2005), “Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries”, OECD Economics Department Workings Paper No. 434.

  • Holm-Hadulla, Fédéric, Sebastian Hauptmeier, and Philipp Rother (2010), “The Impact of Numerical Expenditure Rules and Budgetary Discipline over the Cycle”, ECB Working Paper No. 1169.

  • Joumard, Isabelle, and Christophe André (2008), “Revenue Buoyancy and its Fiscal Policy Implications”, OECD Working Papers No. 598.

  • Larch, Martin, and Alessandro Turrini (2009), “The Cyclically-Adjusted Budget Balance in EU Fiscal Policy Making: A Love at First Sight Turned into a Mature Relationship”, Economic Papers, 374.

  • Riksrevisionen (2009), “Tillämpningen av det finanspolitiska ramverket”, Rapport 17, Stockholm.

  • Svensson, Lars E.O. (2011), “Inflation Targeting”, in Handbook of Monetary Economics, Benjamin M. Friedman and Michael Woodford, eds., Vol. 3b, chap. 22, Amsterdam: North-Holland.

    Google Scholar 

  • Swedish Fiscal Policy Council, various years, Swedish Fiscal Policy, Stockholm.

  • Swedish Ministry of Finance (2010), “Utvidgad redovisning av bedömningen av finanspolitikens hållbarhet”, Promemoria.

  • Swedish Ministry of Finance (2011a), “Ramverket för finanspolitiken, Regeringens skrivelse”, 2010/11:79.

  • Swedish Ministry of Finance (2011b), “Vårpropositionen”, Stockholm.

  • Swedish Ministry of Finance (2012), “Vårpropositionen”, Stockholm.

  • World Bank (2006), “Accountability in Governance”, Note

  • Wyplosz, Charles (2005), “Fiscal Policy: Institutions versus Rules”, National Institute Economic Review, 191, pp. 70–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

This paper is based on a presentation at the conference “The Swiss Debt Brake — Ten Years On”, Study Center Gerzensee. Comments and suggestions by the participants are gratefully acknowledged. The author served as deputy chairman of the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council in the period 2007–2011.

Rights and permissions

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

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Andersen, T.M. The Swedish fiscal policy framework and intermediate fiscal policy targets. Swiss J Economics Statistics 149, 231–248 (2013).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: