The experience with the current European fiscal framework is at best mixed, as the European Fiscal Board has shown in its recent evaluation report of the EU fiscal rules. Indeed, there is substantial discussion about how they could be best revised. This workshop revisits the EU fiscal rules. However, it also takes a broader view of EU arrangements by exploring the case for a central fiscal capacity and “blue sky arrangements” based on a complete overhaul of the current fiscal framework.
This workshop explored four main themes:
- The role and design of common European fiscal instruments;
- The relative roles of market discipline and fiscal rules in incentivizing good fiscal policy;
- The aims and design of European fiscal rules.
- The role of national independent fiscal institutions.
Roel Beetsma (EFB, ACES, University of Amsterdam and CEPR), Massimo Bordignon (EFB and Catholic University of Milan), Jean Pisani-Ferry (Bruegel, Sciences-Po, and Hertie School), Jeromin Zettelmeyer (Peterson Institute for International Economics and CEPR)
The programme committee sought theoretical and empirical contributions with an emphasis on policy (design) that helped answer the following questions:
1. What, if any, are the welfare and/or stabilization gains of fiscal risk sharing, over and above the benefits of functioning national fiscal stabilizers?
2. How can euro-area fiscal stabilization instruments be designed in a way that does not lead to free riding or moral hazard at the national level?
3. Is there an empirically or theoretically plausible case that euro-area fiscal incentives can be used to overcome reform obstacles at the national level?
4. What, if any, should the functions of a euro-area budget be: stabilization, risk sharing, provision of euro-area public goods (and if so, which?), provision of euro area debt that can be used as safe asset? What size and governance structure would such a budget require?
5. Is there any evidence that markets successfully discipline fiscal policies (e.g. via changes in borrowing costs, or by cutting off reckless governments?)
6. Are there institutional or legal frameworks that might allow successful market discipline while shielding sovereigns from potentially destructive swings in market sentiment?
7. How does the political economy of rules-based and market discipline differ, particularly at a time in the context of rising populism and grievances against "Brussels"?
8. What should be the purpose of euro-area fiscal rules? How does it differ from the purpose of national-level fiscal rules? How, if at all, should the currency union's context affect the aims and design of euro area fiscal rules (for example, positive fiscal spillovers, negative externalities of national fiscal crises, impact on external adjustment and rebalancing between member)? What if any should be the division of labor between euro area and national level fiscal rules, and how can possible inconsistencies be avoided?
9. Should euro area fiscal rules contain an explicit debt anchor; and if so, what is the right anchor? Should it be defined as a fixed share of debt to GDP, or in other ways?
10. Should fiscal rules be amended to make room for public investment - for example, related to climate change mitigation and adaptation? How can the transition to low carbon economies be financed within the fiscal rules?
11. How should euro area fiscal rules be enforced? Should adherence to fiscal rules be a precondition for access to risk-sharing mechanisms?
12. What are the implications of persistently lower real rates for the European fiscal rules? What are the implications of negative real rates for debt targets and the fiscal rules?
13. Should fiscal rules take into account constraints in the exercise of monetary policy (such as the effective lower bounds on policy rates) - and if so, how?
14. Should fiscal rules be replaced with discretionary, but binding fiscal surveillance? If so, what institutional framework/governance structure does this require? What is the role of the national independent fiscal institutions and EU-level surveillance?
Rethinking the European Fiscal Framework
Workshop organised by the European Fiscal Board, in collaboration with CEPR and ACES
Charlemagne Building, Rue de la Loi 170, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Friday 28 February 2020, Brussels
Video Recording: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/rethinking-the-european-fiscal-framework
The full set of papers, presentations and videos is now available on the European Fiscal Board's (EFB) website https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-policy-coordination/european-fiscal-board-efb/rethinking-european-fiscal-framework_e
08.30 - 09.00 Registration
09.00 - 09.15 Welcoming remarks by Roel Beetsma | Member, European Fiscal Board and CEPR
09.15 – 09.30 Keynote address by Paolo Gentiloni | European Commissioner for Economy
Chair: Niels Thygesen | Chair, European Fiscal Board
Session 1 European fiscal rules (speakers 25 min., discussant 15 min., floor 15 min.)
Chair: Cláudia Braz | Central Bank of Portugal
09.30 - 11.15 'Consistent Flexibility: Enforcement of Fiscal Rules Through Political Incentives’
Eckhard Janeba | University of Mannheim
‘Do EU Fiscal Rules Support Counter-cyclical Fiscal Policy? The Importance of Institutional Reform’
Martin Larch | Head of Secretariat, European Fiscal Board
‘Performance of spending rules at the EU level – a quantitative assessment’
Gilles Mourre | European Commission
Discussant: Philippe Martin | Professor Science Po and CEPR
11.15 – 11.40 Coffee break
Session 2 Central Fiscal Capacities (speakers 25 min., discussant 15 min.; floor 15 min.)
Chair: Jeromin Zettelmeyer | International Monetary Fund and CEPR
11.40 – 13.25 'An Unemployment Re-Insurance Scheme for the Eurozone? Stabilizing and Redistributive Effects’
Mathias Dolls | Ifo Institute and CESifo
'On the Design of a European Unemployment Insurance System’
Ramon Marimon | European University Institute and CEPR
‘On a fiscal capacity for the euro area’
Lars Feld | German Council of Economic Advisors & University of Freiburg
Discussant: Agnès Bénassy-Quéré | Paris School of Economics
13.25 - 14.40 Lunch break
Session 3 Blue-sky proposals (speaker 40 min., discussants 10 min.; floor 15 min.)
Chair: Lucrezia Reichlin | London Business School and CEPR
14.40 – 15.55 ‘Revisiting the EU fiscal framework in an era of low interest rates’
Keynote address by Olivier Blanchard | Peterson Institute for International Economics and CEPR
Discussants: Clemens Fuest (President CESifo) and Thomas Wieser (Bruegel)
15.55 - 17.05 Panel Discussion: Rethinking the EU Fiscal Framework
Jean Pisani-Ferry (Moderator) | Sciences-Po and EUI
Lucrezia Reichlin (10 min) | London Business School and CEPR
Mateusz Szczurek (10min) | Member of the European Fiscal Board
Guido Tabellini (10min) | University of Bocconi and CEPR
Beatrice Weder di Mauro (10 min) | CEPR
Olivier Blanchard | Peterson Institute for International Economics and CEPR
17.05 - 17.20 Concluding remarks by Massimo Bordignon | Member of the European Fiscal Board